Now, the story of Persian Empire retold digitally

May 3rd, 2009 - 12:46 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, May 3 (ANI): The Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago is using modern technology to digitally record thousands of tablets that, as they are being pieced together, tell an unusually detailed story of the Persian Empire.These ancient tablets from the palaces of Persepolis include pieces of language and art from the center of the Persian Empire, all made when it extended from India and Central Asia to Egypt and the Mediterranean. Most have texts in impressed cuneiform characters, many them have inked texts in Aramaic writing and almost all of the tablets have seal impressions. They are now being recorded and distributed with digital processes that will allow scholars and viewers across the world to examine them as if they had picked them up and rotated under a light.With a substantial grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, a team of researchers began work in 2007. Now, with a second Mellon grant, the team will continue this work through 2010. By that time, researchers hope to have about 10,000 tablets and fragments recorded. The tablets being digitized come from the Persepolis Fortification Archive, some 30,000 administrative tablets and fragments that Oriental Institute archaeologists recovered in 1933 at Persepolis, the ruined palaces where the kings of the ancient Persian Empire held court. Since 1936, they have been on loan from Iran to the Oriental Institute for analysis and recording. “They were written, sealed and filed in a short span of time, between 509 and 493 B.C., in the middle of the reign of the Achaemenid Persian king Darius I,” said Gil Stein, Director of the Oriental Institute, where the tablets are kept. “The administration that these documents record touched every level of society, from lowly workers through bureaucrats and governors to the royal family itself,” he added. Part of the collection has been recorded, and many of the tablets have been returned to Iran, but the tablets have challenged scholars since their discovery.As the project continues, scholars will be able to better analyze the information available in the archive. Online presentation of images of the tablets, images of the seal impressions and editions of the texts will allow researchers to be able to look at each piece, compare and connect it with other pieces, and to assemble and work with the archive as a whole system. (ANI)

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