Geomapping Landscapes of Writing, or GLoW for short, is a three-year research project in Assyriology and Archaeology at Uppsala University Department of Linguistics and Philology headed by Jakob Andersson (PI) and Rune Rattenborg (Co-PI). The project is funded through a 7.8 million Swedish kronor (c. €730,000) grant from Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences Research (grant number MXM19-1160:1) for 2020-2022. The project aims to assemble and analyse a full digital record of the cuneiform corpus, a script in widespread use across the Middle East from c. 3400 BCE to 100 CE, and arguably one of the largest bodies of written source material from the the ancient world. Drawing on recent advances in digital humanities and geospatial data mapping, this initiative will significantly expand the empirical scope of researchers in the field and beyond with regards to the easy location and query of basic cuneiform text metadata and origin. Concurrently, we will also be exploring large-scale analytical perspectives on the distribution, composition, use and materiality of writing across the full life-span of the cuneiform script. As a first quantifiable and corpus-wide study of one of the greatest corpora of historical records from the ancient world, it will provide a benchmark example of the application of digital and spatial computing tools to the study of writing in early human history.

Research Programme

The GLoW research programme includes three basic components, namely 1) metadata and spatial data collection, 2) analyses and research, and 3) knowledge exchange and dissemination. The first part, undertaken from primo 2020 to medio 2021, includes a systematic and exhaustive mapping and indexing of cuneiform inscriptions available in digital catalogues or in print, archaeological locales where cuneiform inscriptions have been found, and collections where cuneiform inscriptions are currently held. The second is scheduled for medio 2020 to medio 2022, and will focus on broader patterns in the social context of inscribed material culture, dialectal patterns through time and space as emerging from the cuneiform record, and trends in the distribution and composition of the cuneiform corpus over the long term. Data sets and initial results from these work packages will be released on this platform regularly (see Resources). We very much welcome inquiries from researchers and cultural heritage managers regarding any aspect of our research programme. Please contact Co-PI Rune Rattenborg (rune.rattenborg@lingfil.uu.se) for further information.

Collaboration

The project relies on the input of an expert group of advisers, including Adam Anderson (Digital Humanities at Berkeley), Nathan Morello (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München), and Émilie Pagé-Perron (University of Toronto). GLoW collaborates with a diverse range of research consortia in Sweden and abroad. At Uppsala University, we form an active part of research hubs and networks for further exploring and expanding approaches to digital humanities and philology, including Digital Humanities Uppsala, the network TextWorlds: Global Mapping of Texts From the Pre-Modern World, and individual research projects at the Department of Linguistics and Philology and the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History. Internationally, we maintain a close working relationship with initiatives such as the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative, the Open Richly Annotated Cuneiform Corpora and the International Association of Assyriologists.

We also welcome expressions of interest from junior researchers interested in discussing and developing standalone projects related to the GLoW research programme, for submission with funding programmes at the Swedish Research Council or Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, among others. Please contact PI Jakob Andersson (jakob.andersson@lingfil.uu.se) for further information.