Between the 3rd and 6th September 2013 we (Gabriel Bodard and Simona Stoyanova) taught an EpiDoc training workshop at the ‘St. Kliment Ohridski’ University of Sofia, Bugaria. The workshop was funded by the university’s Departments of Classics and History, and the Centre of Excellence in the Humanities “Alma Mater”, and organised by Dimitar Iliev. This was the first EpiDoc workshop held in Eastern Europe. The participants came from Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Macedonia, Romania and Serbia.
The programme of the workshop (see EpiDoc Summer School at the Digital Classicist wiki) involved a basic introduction to XML and TEI; the principles of EpiDoc markup, which are based on Leiden for the text transcription and the publication practices of epigraphers and papyrologists for descriptive, historical and supporting data. Most of the week involved hands-on experience for the participants in XML encoding and use of the Papyrological Editor tags-free interface (Leiden+), and ended with discussion of project management issues and the future of the EpiDoc community, and training possibilities in general.
We asked the participants to share their impressions of the workshop, and some of their responses are herebelow.
Mariya Doncheva, epigraphic consultant at the Regional Historical Musem of Vratza (Bulgaria), writes:
Since Information Technologies have become an integral part of our lives, science studies, research, etc., it is indispensable for epigraphers to keep pace with the modern approaches and latest technologies in this field. I was brought to the EpiDoc workshop driven by the interest in ways of cultural preservation. Strong incentive for taking part in it was the common undertakings with researchers and archaeologists from Regional Historical Museum at my native town focused on accessibility and preservation of cultural heritage.
My participation in the EpiDoc XML Workshop enriched my knowledge in the field of IT. I was introduced to digital processing of ancient epigraphical monuments with XML. Furthermore, I was taught to encode a great variety of textual peculiarities. I have acquired skills which I will use later on in developing the common initiatives with the aforementioned cultural institution. Such valuable experience will enable me to contribute to preserving cultural heritage through digitalization and make it easily accessible to a wide range of audiences.
Elena Dzukeska, lecturer at the Institute of Classical Studies, Faculty of Philosophy, University “Ss. Cyril and Methodius”, Skopje (Macedonia), writes:
The EpiDoc Workshop in Sofia was unique experience. I applied in order to learn something basic about XML editors and encoding inscriptions and I expected practical work. What I did not expect is that just in few days I will already have on my computer couple of inscriptions and papyri encoded by myself with the help of the instructors. I got the picture about the process of encoding inscriptions and I think I know what do I have to do in order to start a project of my own. The workshop was great and inspiring. I wish it lasted longer.
Margarita Buzalkovska-Aleksova, also from “Ss. Cyril and Methodius”, writes:
The EpiDoc Workshop in Sofia was a good opportunity to see how actually encoding works. It was a challenge being a philologist to get closer to the XML editors, especially useful to encode inscriptions and manuscripts. I thought it was impossible to manage to remember all the data needed for work, but the well -organized work – the presentations, immediate practice and useful suggestions, help and assistance enabled us to encode the documents by several approaches. It was also nice to work in such a busy and friendly atmosphere at the same time. I think several such workshops would be nice to have to upgrade my basic knowledge. The warm receipt by the organizers was also very helpful. Many ideas on new projects on encoding inscriptions appeared during the work and nice evening parties, as well as lot of friendship needed for further wok on inscriptions and manuscripts.
Alina Dimitrova, PhD student in Ancient history in Sofia, writes:
I work with epigraphic texts. My research topic is related mainly to the inscriptions from the West coast of the Black Sea in the Hellenistic period. Like everyone who has experience with ancient inscriptions, I know that often the main difficulty of the researcher is to find the different editions, photos and comments of a text. For this reason I think that the best way to go forward in epigraphy is to create database/s with searchable inscriptions, presented with their main characteristics and different readings.
So, I subscribed to the workshop in order to understand better the procedure of digitalizing and to contribute to this process, since I strongly believe that the only way to achieve fast result is to combine all our efforts. In my opinion, the workshop was very efficient and answered completely to my expectations. In addition, I met a group of great people and had a really good time. Many thanks to the organizing committee of the workshop.
Dragana Grbic, of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Belgrade, writes:
I intend to start up a small digital epigraphic project in Serbia using EpiDoc as a pilot for a larger corpus. Thus, the training workshop in Sofia focused mainly on epigraphy and on the material from South-Eastern Europe, came at the perfect time. I was hoping to get some practice in marking up with EpiDoc and also to get acquainted with the principles of tagless editing. The event was a perfect opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences with the colleagues working on a similar material, and to learn about ongoing and prospective projects. Overall, my impressions are great. The workshop exceeded my expectations.
We would only like to add our gratitude to the local organisers in Sofia, with whom we look forward to working again, and thanks to all the participants for making this a productive and enjoyable week for all of us.