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Epigraphy between Philology and Technology

The word “inscription” denotes both a disembodied text and the material support of such a text, usually but not always stone. From the Renaissance onwards, the study of Greek and Roman inscriptions was for a long time directed to texts rather than to their support, the material original being often lost or inaccessible.  In due course, epigraphists began to use technological means, such as specialized typography, engraving, photography, more recently digitization and information technology, to improve methods of study and the dissemination of new results. Up to the mid-twentieth century, epigraphists were also educated in classical studies (Altertumswissenschaft), but in recent decades there has been a sharp decline, notably but not only in the area of ancient and modern languages.

This paper asks how technology can do more than replace older methods of collecting, storing, and disseminating information (personal card-indexes, annual printed surveys), for example by means of online discussion and the consultation of experts in classical philology. It will also discuss the problems of over-reliance on information technology, for example obsolescence, censorship and hacking.

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