Digital and practical epigraphy

It’s been an extremely busy April on the ‘Connectivity and Competition’ project. After an intense two-week research trip (blog post forthcoming), there was the Workshop on Digital and Practical Epigraphy at the ICS in London, co-led by Dr Gabriel Bodard, which took place from 29th April – 4th May 2019.

The concept of the workshop was to explore both traditional and digital epigraphy techniques – from ink drawings and squeezes to photogrammetry and RTI to Epidoc – while showing how these techniques can be used in tandem with each other. What the workshop really revealed, for me, was the close interaction between all these different techniques and specialisms, and how much we can learn by combining techniques.

Our 20 participants came from 12 countries, and ranged from MA students to lecturers. Most were interested in using digital techniques for their PhD projects, though everyone’s previous experience was different (and some were already experts in some of the techniques we looked at). We were also joined by loads of colleagues – Valeria Vitale (ICS), who led the photogrammetry session; Simon Stoyanova (Nottingham), who co-taught the Epidoc portion of the workshop; Caroline Barron (Birkbeck), who arranged a behind-the-scenes visit to the British museum and taught a session on recognising fakes and forgeries, and Bennet Salway (UCL) who assisted with the squeeze making. Our British Museum colleagues Thomas Kiely, Ross Thomas, Joanne Dyer and Alex Truscott were also very generous with their time and showed us a huge amount of the current epigraphy research at the BM.

Practising squeeze-making in St Pancras Gardens (photo by G. Bodard)

I was particularly pleased to do some photogrammetry for the first time, and to learn that it is very straightforward – you just need a digital camera (or phone) and the right software. I succeeded in making a 3D model of one of the practice inscriptions we had borrowed from the UCL collection – though my model had a small hole in the side where I’d not been quite thorough enough. Not too bad for a beginner!

Photogrammetry using Agisoft

We’re hoping to repeat this workshop at some point during the period of the grant, so I hope there will be an opportunity for another 20 people to come to London and learn more about epigraphy.

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