DS Events at the Institute


September 10, 2:00 pm: Digital Scholarship @IAS and NJ Digital Humanities Consortium, HathiTrust Research Center Tools and Services, Ryan Dubnicek, Digital Humanities Specialist, HathiTrust Research Center. Webinar organized by Rutgers Digital Humanities Initiative. 

October 28, 12:00 noon: Joint Near Eastern Studies and Digital Scholarship Conversations @IAS Lecture, Hidden gem of a bygone era: A polythematic work from a Rasulid era, Kinga Dévényi (Corvinus University of Budapest, and The Oriental Collection of the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences). The Oriental Collection of the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences is home to a great variety of manuscripts, and early printed books. Its holdings range from one of the largest collection of Tibetan manuscripts and blockprints in Europe, through a complete series of books in Ottoman Turkish printed in the first half of the 18th century by the Müteferrika Press in Istanbul, to the Kaufmann collection, one of the most well-known libraries of Hebrew manuscripts, early printed books and genizah fragments.
After a brief overview of the history of the Oriental Collection, the lecture demonstrates the use of digital humanities through the example of an undated manuscript of a polythematic work from the Rasulid era, the Unwan al-sharaf of Ibn al-Muqri’ (d. 837/1433). For the recording of this event click here.

November 12, 12:30 pm: Workshop: Overleaf. Would you like to learn some simple and easy tips to make your research, publication, or collaboration work easier? Do you have any questions about Overleaf that you’ve always wanted to ask? The workshop will cover: Platform basic, templates, language support, collaboration, tables\symbols, overview of all the integrations Overleaf offers and time for Q&A. 

December 4, 12-1:30 pm: The Book and the Silk Roads: Corralling Data in the Digital Workspace. Speakers: Suzanne Akbari, Professor of Medieval Studies, IAS • Rachel Di Cresce, Project Librarian, The Book and the Silk Roads • Jessica Lockhart, Director of Research, The Book and the Silk Roads • J. D. Sargan, Leverhulme Research Fellow, Old Books, New Science Lab

“The Book and the Silk Roads” project seeks to build and support a growing international network of scholars, curators, conservators, and scientists exploring significant developments in writing technologies within a range of contexts, focusing particularly on examples of convergent evolution and interchange across the pre-modern world, from East Asia to Mesoamerica. In our presentation we will address how we have handled the technical challenge underlying this research agenda: how to bring different sets of heterogeneous data together in a user-friendly way, while making use of standardized data sharing frameworks to ensure it is open and reusable both across and outside of our tools. For the recording of this event click here.

February 3, 12-1:30 pm: Near Eastern Studies and Digital Scholarship Conversations @IAS Joint Lecture, The History of the Arabic Book: A New Chapter, Mathew Barber (The Aga Khan University, KITAB), Lorenz Nigst (The Aga Khan University, KITAB), Sarah Bowen Savant (The Aga Khan University-ISMC), Peter Verkinderen (The Aga Khan University, KITAB). It is an exciting time to be thinking about Arabic book history, as many questions are now being re-framed and addressed in ways that speak to a wider field of scholarly investigation. These questions concern, for example, the arguably scant material evidence for books up until roughly the eleventh century C.E., the non-survival of books treating important topics, the great variability of witnesses to individual works, and the ways that recycling of parts of prior books operated across time and place. Such questions, which query the very nature of ‘the book’, are relevant for the first four Islamic centuries, but also for later periods. This jointly delivered lecture will present the KITAB project – a collaboration between historians and computer scientists that addresses these major questions. We have assembled a corpus of 1.7 billion words of Arabic texts, and are seeking specifically to understand transmission practices (ca. 700-1500), with a special focus on how authors recycled earlier works and how they cited their predecessors. Through this lecture, we hope to describe the frontiers of knowledge, the challenges and promises of our data, and what listeners themselves might now do with it. (KITAB is a European Research Council Consolidator Grant project funded under Horizon 2020 and also has received funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.) For the recording of this event click here.

March 17, 12-1:30 pm: Near Eastern Studies and Digital Scholarship Conversations @IAS Joint Lecture, An Egyptian Sheikh’s Literary WorldAdam Mestyan (Duke University) and Kathryn Schwarz (University of Massachusetts Amherst). “An Egyptian Sheikh’s Literary World” digitally reconstructs the large book collection of Sheikh Mustafa Salamah al-Najjari (d. 1286/1870), an important intellectual in late Ottoman Egypt. We use the 480 print and manuscript titles and valuations listed in his inheritance inventory as the foundation for our data set. From there, we attempt to identify and track down these works, which we then consult to enhance our data set via information that we gather by hand. Our goal is to visualize bibliographic, economic, geographic, and network data, in order to analyze what we know — and have yet to discover — about this world of texts.  This ongoing project is the first empirical history of the coexistence of manuscript and print culture in Cairo, and we are just beginning to build our first visualizations. Our presentation will explore the stages of our work, the tensions between scholarly detail and digital remediation that have arisen at each of these stages, and what the current digital turn is allowing us to start to ’see’ about Cairene textual culture during this earlier watershed era. 

March 25, 12-1:30 pm: The Author's Voice Inaugural Talk: The Road to the Quran Keyword Database, Elie WardiniProfessor of Arabic, Department of Asia, Middle Eastern and Turkish Studies, Stockholm University. My work on the lexicon of the Quran stems from my interest in contact between Aramaic and Arabic. A question to ask is: ‘What has the Quran contributed to the lexicon of Arabic? And what are its sources?’ Using the Tanzil.net digital Uthmani text of the Quran, I set up a relational database, using FileMaker Pro, in order to conduct a comprehensive analysis of keywords in context of the lexicon of the Quran contrasted to the lexicon of Ibn Hisham’s Sira. The data from the Quran nevertheless offered much more information than anticipated, and in more fields than were intended. In the talk, I will present some aspects of my approach and methods. Hosted by Sabine Schmidtke, School of Historical Studies, IAS and George A. Kiraz, School of Historical Studies, IAS and Editor-in-Chief, Gorgias Press. For the recording of this event click here.

April 9, 11:00 am: A Virtual Open House to Krateros. The Institute for Advanced Study holds one of the largest collections of epigraphic squeezes (paper negatives of inscribed stones) in the world. On April 9th, join Dr. Aaron Hershkowitz, manager of the Krateros Project, for a behind-the-scenes tour of the Meritt Library, home to both the squeeze collection and the digitization effort. Last year the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded the project a prestigious grant to continue to digitize that collection. Attendees will not only get to see the various materials housed in the Meritt Library, but will also get a glimpse into the process of scanning those squeezes. The tour will conclude with a question and answer period led by Dr. HershkowitzFor the recording of this event click here.

April 14, 12-1:30 pm: Near Eastern Studies and Digital Scholarship Conversations @IAS Joint Lecture, Bibliotheca Arabica - A Digital Home for the Arabic Manuscript TraditionVerena Klemm (Institute of Arabic Studies, University of Leipzig, Germany), and Stefanie BrinkmannBoris LiebrenzThomas Efer (Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig). Arabic literatures are usually studied as purely creative products, a body of texts disembodied from their material life. Bibliotheca Arabica, in contrast, focusses on the context, the production, transmission, and reception of the manuscripts that for centuries carried the works we study today. Knowing what was copied, read, endowed, or owned when, where, and by whom, offers new perspectives on this immensely rich tradition. However, such a research agenda requires the collection, cross-reference, normalization, and visualization of widely diverse data created over more than one and a half millennia.

This presentation will offer an overview of the scope, progress, and challenges of Bibliotheca Arabica, illuminated through exemplary case studies of libraries and marginal commentaries. It will showcase the database tools that are being developed as the backbone of our analytical endeavor. For the recording of this event click here.

April 23, 12-2 pm: Simtho: The Syriac Thesaurus. Launch of a Syriac textual corpus portal hosted by Sabine Schmidtke and George A. Kiraz from the Institute for Advanced Study.

Simtho [simtho.bethmardutho.org] is a Syriac corpus search engine with a textual database spanning almost two millennia.  A Beta version was revealed at the 2018 AAR/SBL meeting in San Diego with over 6 million words.  The upcoming Beta II zlaunch will uncover a textual database of over 13 million words with a new responsive and more attractive user interface.

Team member will discuss various digital humanities and computational linguistics techniques including corpus building, the power or regular expressions, building OCR and HTR models, metadata, and part-of-speech tagging.  While these techniques are applied to Syriac, they can be easily transferable to other (especially Semitic) languages. For the recording of this event click here.

June 17, 12-1:30 pmThe Author's Voice: The Goddess Isis and the Kingdom of Meroe, Solange Ashby, Adjunct Assistant Professor at Barnard College. Discussions of the widespread appeal of the cult of Isis in antiquity often omit any mention of the Nubian priests who served the rulers of the Kingdom of Meroe (located south of Egypt in the Sudan) and the royal donations of gold that they delivered to the temple of Isis at Philae, located at Egypt’s border with Nubia. Those funds were essential to the survival of the temple of Philae, allowing it to remain in active use for centuries after other temples had been abandoned in Egypt. I will describe the rites performed by the Nubian priests and their participation in a tradition of Nubian pilgrimage to this site that spanned one thousand years. As a Black Egyptologist it is important to me to investigate the southern connections that are evident in the ancient religious practices of Egypt. Much work remains to be done to highlight these connections.

This is a free Zoom lecture. Register in advance here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the event.

Hosted by Sabine Schmidtke (School of Historical Studies, IAS) and George A. Kiraz (School of Historical Studies, IAS and Editor-in-Chief, Gorgias Press) in cooperation with Angelos Chaniotis (School of Historical Studies, IAS).