Faculty Projects

Our faculty members are leading international projects at the forefront of research on manuscripts, early printed works, archival documents and other premodern texts.

A. S. Yahuda Project

Overview

Abraham Shalom Yahuda

A network of libraries that acquired Arabic, Persian, Turkish and other Islamicate manuscripts from the scholar and collector Abraham Shalom Yahuda (1877–1951). By reconstructing his collections and deciphering their marginalia, we are tracing the movement and transmission of knowledge across the Islamicate world over the course of the past millennium.

Contacts: Marina Rustow, William Noel

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      Annotated Bibliography of Syriac Resources Online

      Overview

      A COMPREHENSIVE BIBLIOGRAPHY ON SYRIAC CHRISTIANITY

      Syri.ac is a comprehensive, annotated, sortable and Zotero-compatible bibliography of open-access resources related to the study of Syriac in order to make research on Syriac literature, history, and culture as painless and direct as possible. The site offers direct links to editions and translations of texts and a linked database of Syriac manuscripts available in digitized form. The site also offers a table of editions and translations of Syriac texts currently in progress, a useful tool for connecting scholars working on the same texts or areas of Syriac research. There is also a complete survey of available editions of the Syriac Bible, including the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha and New Testament Apocrypha in Syriac.

      Contact: Jack Tannous

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      Archaeology of Reading

      Overview

      Archaeology of reading

      The Archaeology of Reading in Early Modern Europe (AOR) uses digital technologies to enable the systematic exploration of the historical reading practices of Renaissance scholars. The corpus comprises thirty-six fully digitized and searchable versions of early printed books filled with tens of thousands of handwritten notes left by two of the most dedicated readers of the early modern period: John Dee and Gabriel Harvey. The AOR viewer places the pages of each book alongside full transcriptions and English translations of the marginalia. Users can browse the annotations or query the marginalia for the people, places, and books Dee and Harvey mentioned and the symbols and marks they used.

      Contact: Anthony Grafton

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      The Book and the Silk Roads

      Overview

      The Book and the Silk Roads Image

      The Book and the Silk Roads project maps connections between parts of the premodern world by describing the technology of the book. Its aim is to challenge a too-familiar history, in which Gutenberg’s moveable type and our own era’s digital communication technologies are the natural outcomes of a triumphant Western tradition that began with Christian Rome’s invention of the codex. 

      A more global approach to premodern book history transforms the story of human communications by revealing networks of human relationships—as well as technological and material entanglements—that knit together our premodern world.

      Contact: Suzanne Conklin Akbari

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      Institutional Partners

      Ethiopian Miracles of Mary

      Overview

      Ethiopian Marian miracle

      The Princeton Ethiopian, Eritrean, and Egyptian Miracles of Mary digital humanities project (PEMM) is a comprehensive resource for the miracle stories written about the Virgin Mary in Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Egypt, and preserved in Gəˁəz between 1300 and the present. The project is aimed at creating a resource for all scholars and to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church community, providing Ethiopians with digital access to their patrimony, and raising general awareness about the beauty, breadth, and variety of these vital works of early African literature.

      Contact: Wendy Belcher

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      FLAME (Framing the Late Antique and Early Medieval Economy)

      Overview

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      The FLAME Project reconstructs the economy of Western Afro-Eurasia, 325–725 CE, supplying hard data from over a million published coins from Ireland to India to understand the fall of the Roman Empire, the rise of Islam and the origins of the European economy. FLAME has concluded its first phase, a review of the coins from Roman and Sassanian mints, with note of issues of denominations and types. The proejct is now gathering and organizing circulation data from literary sources, focusing on the relationship between coin issues and moneys of account, and from hoards and site finds for evidence of the geography and chronology of circulation.

      Contact: Alan Stahl

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      Institutional Partners

      • Max Planck Gesellschaft (SCALoFRAG — Scales of Fragmentation: Bioarchaeological Evidence of Economic and Social Transformation from the Late Roman to Early Medieval Period in the Eastern Mediterranean)
      • Canadian Institute of Ukranian Studies, University of Alberta.

      Frogbear (From the Ground Up: Buddhism and East Asian Religions)

      Overview

      FrogBear logo transparent

      From the Ground Up: Buddhism and East Asian Religions is a global network of scholars and institutions that employs interdisciplinary scholarship to enhance public and scholarly understanding of Buddhism and East Asian religions through innovative practices of research and training. The project fosters the next generation of scholars, training them to conduct onsite contextual investigation of texts, images, artifacts, and practices and gather new digital materials for a publicly accessible repository.

      Contact: Stephen Teiser

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      Guide to Shōsōin Research

      Overview

       Guide to Shōsōin Research

      Shōsōin 正倉院 is the name of an eighth-century storehouse located on the grounds of the temple Tōdai-ji 東大寺, most famous for its precious objects from across the silk road, but also preserving more than 10,000 handwritten documents from the Nara period (710–784), originally part of a state-sanctioned scriptorium, but also including records of tax collection, censuses and temple construction. The manuscripts are among our best sources for religion, the economy and the state in early Japan, the Japanese language, material culture and the lives of commoners who have otherwise disappeared from the historical record.

      Contact: Bryan Lowe

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      Institutional Partners

      Index of Medieval Art

      Overview

      The Index of Medieval Art

      Images and descriptive data related to the iconography of works of art produced between early apostolic times and the sixteenth century, formerly known as the Index of Christian Art. The collection now includes a growing number of secular, Jewish and Islamic works. Full access by subscription.

      Contact: Pamela Patton

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      International Center for the Study of Text Cultures

      Overview

      International Center for the Study of Ancinet text cultures

      The International Center for the Study of Ancient Text Cultures is devoted to creating international research exchanges and collaborations for doctoral students, postdoctoral fellows, junior faculty, and senior scholars who study ancient textuality in China and across multiple ancient traditions. The Center embraces the careful study of both transmitted and newly discovered ancient texts, as well as new methodological approaches and theoretical perspectives.

      Contact: Martin Kern

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      Mapping Medieval Metadata

      Overview

      Byzantine lead seal

      Creating an open-access, geo-referenced dataset of Byzantine lead seals to map structures and processes of communication and allocatation of resources. Lead seals were used to enclose correspondence and assure the recipient of the authenticity of the contents; seals typically include the sender's name and title. The corpus comprises roughly 5,000 provenanced seals of an estimated 80,000, scattered from England to Afghanistan.

      Contact: Lucas McMahon, Abigail Sargent

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      Middle Ages for Educators (MAFE)

      Overview

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      Resource portal aimed at educators and academics studying the Middle Ages. Designed for teachers, students, and members of the broader public who want to learn about Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages (c. 300-1500 C.E.), MAFE provides resources for both teaching and research, including:

      • Short videos by world-renowned experts accompanied by discussion questions and primary source materials
      • Introductions to medieval digital projects
      • Workshops on how to use digital tools to study the medieval past
      • Curated links to associated websites with medieval content, images, digitized manuscripts, or other medieval materials.

      Contact: Jonathan Henry, Skyler Anderson

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      North of Byzantium

      Overview

      North of Byzantium

      North of Byzantium explores the history, art, and culture of the northern frontiers of the Byzantine Empire in Eastern Europe between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries. Through annual events, publications, and resources, the initiative addresses issues of visual eclecticism in art and architecture, patronage, and the transfer of artistic ideas and styles, and charts how cross-cultural exchange operated in regions of the Balkan Peninsula, the Carpathian Mountains, and further north — the crossroads of the Latin, Greek, Slavic, and Islamic cultural spheres.

      Contact: Maria Alessia Rossi

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      Practices of Commentary

      Overview

      Practices of Commentary Image

      The project seeks to develop a global perspective on practices of commentary, de-siloing regionally focused work while simultaneously offering fine-grained and nuanced accounts of the function of commentary in cultures and communities of the premodern world. This project thus has a global scope, bringing together both senior and junior scholars with expertise in various European, Near Eastern, and South and East Asian traditions to debate the theory and practice of commenting and commentary in humanistic studies today.

      Contact: Suzanne Conklin Akbari

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      Institutional Partners

      Princeton Geniza Project

      Overview

      Geniza Lab logo

      The Princeton Geniza Project is a database of nearly 30,000 documents preserved in the Geniza chamber of the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Cairo. The project comprises descriptions of unpublished documents and full-text retrieval, including new, published and unpublished transcriptions and translations. The project also parses technical terms, documentary structures and diplomatic categories. The project is committed to fostering new research by making access to geniza sources more straightforward and accessible to non-specialists and specialists alike.

       

      Contact: Marina Rustow

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      Scribes of the Cairo Geniza

      Overview

      Scribes of the Cairo Geniza image

      Scribes of the Cairo Geniza is a multilingual crowdsourcing project launched in 2017 to classify and transcribe manuscript fragments from a medieval Egyptian synagogue. An initiative led by the University of Pennsylvania Libraries and Zooniverse, the project harnesses the power of technology and people to decipher some of the most challenging fragments in the world.

      Contact: Marina Rustow

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      Institutional Partners

      The Transformation of the Carolingian World

      Overview

      Carolingian

      The Transformation of the Carolingian World is a network of historians studying the social, political and cultural changes from the early to the high Middle Ages, and the process of the crystallization of the Latin West as the Latin West. The network's regional interests cover Northern Iberia, Brittany, the Frankish Empire east of the Rhine as well as central Francia (Lorraine, Alsace, Champagne), Tuscany, Southern Italy and England. The project has produced a collection of essays: "The Uses of the past in Times of Transition: Forgetting, Using and Discrediting the Past" (open access) and a new database on “Carolingian text culture in Septimania and Catalonia.” The group is now exploring the re-organization of knowledge in Carolingian approaches to the organization of book and libraries with a particular focus on the writing and rewriting of histories from the 9th to the 12th centuries (Histories in transition).

      Contact: Helmut Reimitz

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      The Zaydi Manuscript Tradition

      Overview

      The Zaydi Manuscript Tradition

      This is a joint project with HMML and the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton, providing searchable digitized collections as well as bibliographic resources to facilitate further study of Zaydi literary production. The Zaydi community is a branch of Shii Islam that has flourished mainly in two regions, namely the mountainous Northern Highlands of Yemen and the Caspian regions of Northern Iran.

      Contact: Sabine Schmidtke

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      Institutional Partners