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ISAW Papers 7.12 (2014)

The Europeana Network of Ancient Greek and Latin Epigraphy (EAGLE)

Pietro Maria Liuzzo

EAGLE is a Best Practice Network (BPN) that brings together several European institutions1 and archives in the field of Classical Latin and Greek epigraphy.2 This is a different Eagle from that of the Electronic Archive of Greek and Latin Epigraphy, although all members of this Eagle are also in the project.

The “E” in EAGLE project stands for Europeana,3 the “european catalyst for change in the world of cultural heritage” brought to us by The Europeana Foundation. Europeana is a Network, and so is Eagle, sharing a vision which is:

“making cultural heritage openly accessible in a digital way, to promote the exchange of ideas and information”4

This Eagle is therefore The Europeana Network of Ancient Greek and Latin Epigraphy and its main aim is to provide Europeana with a broad collection of inscriptions, which are a specific type of content currently only sparsely present. By the end of the project Eagle will supply inscriptions coming from 25 EU countries, providing more than 1.5 M sets of metadata regarding images of inscriptions, inscriptions, contextual material (monuments and materials) and translations (of a selected group of inscriptions).

Through a careful mapping of existing data models in use by the Content Providers, 5 EAGLE will implement an inscription-specific metadata model. This will be based on Epidoc Guidelines6 for the editions of texts and on existing standards in use at Arachne7 for metadata of photographs, while following recommendations developed through sister Europeana projects. All edited texts and all images will be available in XML and be interoperable with other epigraphic projects, and will then be represented in EDM (Europeana Data Model)8 to enter in the Linked Open Data World.9

EAGLE is thus an aggregator10 and will have for the same reason also a platform to search and browse inscriptions. On the side of what Eagle would like to link with, there is certainly the possible collaboration in the future,11 to develop an editing tool for inscriptions which will allow further contributors and participant to join the BPN.12

Eagle will also develop two Applications:

Finally, Eagle is proud to work in partnership with Wikimedia Italia14 with which will set up a Wikibase15 MediaWiki for the enrichment and curation of epigraphic images and texts, with special emphasis on translations. This will allow wikipedia users to link images and metadata of inscriptions from authoritative sources, and will make references in wikipedia much richer, providing a basis for a future collaborative effort towards translations of all inscriptions in many languages.

EAGLE will make connections within its BPN, being part of Europeana and being part of Wikidata and Wikisource, with different kinds of users and with all those people, institutions and projects who will decide to join. But EAGLE main concern is to link within its data to the Linked Ancient World Data, to enrich the possibility to discover scholarly significant connections among scientific databases.  EAGLE will take inscriptions out of isolations opening them up for relations and connections.

One first way to do this will be to provide one stable Trismegistos URI16 to each inscription, the value of which is not only that of providing a stable link and identifier, but also to give a clear and univocal reference which can be used in printed publications, linking in this way also outside the web.

A second way will be to have all Geographical informations converge to Trismegistos Places, to find inconsistencies and get a stable ID17 which will be then linked following the Pelagios Cookbook18 to Pleiades,19 which will in turn make the richness of possible links to geographical information exponential.

The third main way among others will be the definition of common structured thesauri.20 EAGLE is already taking up a major task of alignment and definition of each term in use by the BPN in five different fields of information: Type of Inscription; Object Type; Material;21 Writing technique; Decoration.22 Each term will be associated with the values in use by each other content provider and will be given definitions with examples. This is because there is a shared need for an alignment and full definitions, as vocabularies in use in different projects often differ not only in their names and number, but in definitions, attribution to a specific field, not to mention translations of values which are often not univocal at all, and might create ambiguities and problems. EAGLE will develop these thesauri23 and will keep them exposed and accessible all the way long with stable URIs.24

EAGLE has a main focus on images for two reasons. The first is that to achieve the functions of the application described above, CNR-ISTI will also develop within EAGLE a full image recognition system which will enable people to get more information from all these networks of data via a smartphone while enriching the database of photographs of inscriptions.

Secondly, according to the DEA all metadata (including all the EPIDOC-XML editions of texts) will by licensed under Creative Commons CC0 licence (1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication),25 but for images it is not always the case that owners are willing to “give them up”. Most of the images in EAGLE are already licensed under CC BY-SA and EAGLE will put effort in renegotiating current permissions to foster the CC-BY-SA or CC0 licensing for the images of its BPN and in any case provide clear labelling for all materials according to Europeana guidelines and requirements.26 EAGLE BPN believes that open licensing is a very powerful tool, together with LOD to guarantee the continuous increase of openly accessible and reusable material.27

Works Cited

ATHENA 2009: ATHENA project (2009), “Overview of IPR legislation in relation to the objectives of Europeana (1 November 2008 – 30 April 2009)”.

Bodard 2010: Bodard, EpiDoc: Epigraphic Documents in XML for Publication and Interchange, in Latin on stone ed. Francisca Feraudi-Gruénais 2010, 101f.

Cayless, Roueché, Elliott, Bodard 2009: Hugh Cayless, Charlotte Roueché, Tom Elliott, Gabriel Bodard, Epigraphy in 2017, Digital Humanities Quarterly 3.1 (2009),

Evangelisti 2010: Evangelisti Silvia, EDR history, Purpose, and Structure, in Latin on stone ed. Francisca Feraudi-Gruénais,  2010, 127f.

Felle 2012: A.E. Felle 2012 Esperienze diverse e complementari nel trattamento digitale delle fonti epigrafiche. Il caso di Eagle ed EpiDoc in Diritto romano e scienze antichistiche nell’era digitale. Convegno di studio (Firenze, 12-13 settembre 2011), Torino 2012 [Collectanea Graeco-Romana. Studi e strumenti per la ricerca storico-giuridica, 10], 117-130.

Harping 2010: Harping Introduction to Controlled Vocabularies: Terminology for Art, Architecture, and Other Cultural Works 2010 (

Vincent Wickham 2013: N. Vincent and C. Wickham, Debating Open Access June 2013.


1 Please see the temporary project website for more informations: for a complete list of initial members of the BPN and if you would like to join EAGLE.

2 The coordinator of the project is Silvia Orlandi ( Sapienza Università di Roma), and the technical coordinator is Claudio Prandoni (  Promoter Srl).


4 See

5 Thanks mainly to the work of the University of Alcalà de Henares (task leader) and of the Cyprus Institute (work package leader). It is to be noted that some partners in the EAGLE BPN already have their data in EPIDOC XML, namely PETRAE and the British School at Rome.

6 for history, philosophy and introduction to Epidoc, see Cayless, Roueché, Elliott, Bodard, 2009 and Bodard 2010


8 More details and documentation can be found at EDM refers to major vocabularies and namespaces, including CIDOC-CRM.

9 See also

10 The structure of which is being designed by the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche - Istituto di Scienza e Tecnologie dell’Informazione.

11 Perhaps with Perseus projects on Epigraphy (see and with the Papyrological Navigator (

12 An approach which should guarantee and integration of different approaches to the study of epigraphy: the inscription as text or as inscribed monument. Cfr. Felle 2012.

13 Using tools as


15 The software used by Wikidata ( which is actually an extension of MediaWiki developing on Semantic Media Wiki ( to improve it and solve several of its existing issues (


17 And a thorough work of cleaning and harmonization.



20 According to the definition in Harping 2010. I call them all thesauri according to the more specific definition by the same author although some EAGLE thesauri will be flat lists with synonyms ring lists based on other current uses in the BPN, others poly-hierarchical lists. Some general concepts will be also defined which might perhaps find their place in LAWD. There is no intention to provide arbitrary translations of terms, but consistency of translations from content provider will be harmonized and checked by native speakers. For example of translations and definitions see Evangelisti 2010 and or

21 The petrology section of the material vocabulary will mostly refer to the “Simplified Petrography” of the University of Salzburg, an highly accurate thesaurus developed by natural scientists and classicist which is already available with documentation at

22 EAGLE will also put effort in harmonizing the dating criteria in use, with precise guidelines for controlled format of date mark-up. This as the previously mentioned vocabularies will be defined and publicly accessible.

23 Although the testing phase is not yet finished, there is a very strong likelihood that tematres will be used to develop these vocabularies

24 The website and technology will be maintained by PROMOTER srl and by Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche - Istituto di Scienza e Tecnologie dell’Informazione.

25 A full description can be found at

26 A useful overview can be found by the ATHENA 2009 p.6 with definitions from Useful “calculators” are available at, and now also at

27 An issue related but basically distinct from the one faced in Vincent and Wickham 2013.