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2018-02-19 20 | Utrecht

EAJS EpiDoC Winterschool

Digital Humanities and Jewish Epigraphy

Epidoc – Epigraphic Documents in TEI XML


Max Grüntgens | Torsten Schrade | Thomas Kollatz
@hou2zi0 | @kol_t | @digicademy | Twitter digicademy | CC-BY 4.0

Digital Epigraphy and Traditional Epigraphy

The focus of such a class is not so much an intensive EpiDoc training, but rather demonstrating that structured markup is nothing more than structured thinking about data. The structure of an XML document reflects the structure of an epigraphic edition. Following the strict hierarchy of XML forces one to better organise one’s thoughts, approach towards, and work on an epigraphic document. We have found that it is highly beneficial to be able to process and produce information in a well structured and clearer way, even if the students do not show interest in further DH training.

Bodard and Stoyanova 2016



What is XML

Extensible Markup Language
  • semantic in stead of typography: XML is more interested in the meaning of data than in its presentation
  • XML is device-independent and system-independent
  • XML is an interchange and communication format
Generalizing … we define markup, or (synonymously) encoding, as any means of making explicit an interpretation of a text.

A Gentle Introduction to XML


Who's afraid of angle brackets?

start tag marks the begin of an element
end tag marks the end of an element
text unit with tagged content
empty tag | milestone– element with no content
<tag attribute="value">
tags can have attributes with values

What does well-formed mean

A well-formed XML [...] obeys the following simple rules:
  • there is a single element enclosing the whole document: this is known as the root element;
  • each element is completely contained by the root element, or by an element that is so contained;
  • elements do not partially overlap one another;
  • a tag explicitly marks the start and end of each element.

A Gentle Introduction to XML

Learning by Doing
  • Open Oxygen XML Editor
  • Write your first text in XML
  • Try the different modes: Text, Grid, Author

What is TEI XML

Text Encoding Initiative
The Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) is a consortium which collectively develops and maintains a standard for the representation of texts in digital form. Its chief deliverable is a set of Guidelines which specify encoding methods for machine-readable texts, chiefly in the humanities, social sciences and linguistics. Since 1994, the TEI Guidelines have been widely used by libraries, museums, publishers, and individual scholars to present texts for online research, teaching, and preservation. In addition to the Guidelines themselves, the Consortium provides a variety of resources and training events for learning TEI, information on projects using the TEI, a bibliography of TEI-related publications, and software developed for or adapted to the TEI.

TEI delivers Guidelines

The TEI Guidelines for Electronic Text Encoding and Interchange define and document a markup language for representing the structural, renditional, and conceptual features of texts. They focus (though not exclusively) on the encoding of documents in the humanities and social sciences, and in particular on the representation of primary source materials for research and analysis. These guidelines are expressed as a modular, extensible XML schema, accompanied by detailed documentation, and are published under an open-source license.

What is EpiDoc

Epigraphic Documents in TEI XML – XML text markup for ancient documents
EpiDoc is an international, collaborative effort that provides guidelines and tools for encoding scholarly and educational editions of ancient documents. It uses a subset of the Text Encoding Initiative's standard for the representation of texts in digital form and was developed initially for the publication of digital editions of ancient inscriptions [...]It addresses not only the transcription and editorial treatment of texts themselves, but also the history and materiality of the objects on which the texts appear.

Structure of an EpiDoc Edition

<TEI xmlns="" xml:space="preserve" xml:lang="en">
     <!-- Metadata -->

      <!-- Information on image files -->

       <!-- Textdata: edition, commentary, translation, etc. -->

EpiDoc offers a template file ex-epidoctemplate.xml
see EpiDoc Guidelines: Structure Of An EpiDoc Edition

Learning by Doing
  • Open ex-epidoctemplate.xml in the Oxygen XML Editor
  • Get an overview of the structure of an EpiDoc XML file
  • Try out the onboard equipment: Use F2

EpiDoc Guidelines: Structure Of An EpiDoc Edition


Encoding a headstone from Frankfurt, Battonstreet


© Andreas Hemstege

Textual features

  • textblock
  • lines
  • linebreaks
  • abbreviated words
  • abbrevations
  • gaps
  • numbers
  • form of the text field
  • writing area
  • names
  • depends on your research question

source epidat ffb-98

Learning by Doing

Some recommendations that faciltate use of Oxygen XML-Editor

  1. Window > Show View >
    1. Elements
    2. Attributes
    3. Outline
  2. Options > Preferences > Editor > Author > Cursor Navigation
    Enable | Disable Arrow keys move the cursor in the reading direction
Learning by Doing The Image of the Headstone can be found here:
  • Use ex-epidoctemplate
  • Go to the facsimile-Element
  • Link the Edition to the Digital Image
  • For more information on the the chapter entitled Images, Figures and Facsimile in the EpiDoc Guidelines. May be you want to add more Information … 
‎‎עד הגל הזה ועדה המצבה הזאת 
אשר יריתי לראש ה ורה חשובה מרת בילא בת ר׳ נתן 
שנפטר י״ד בטבת שנת ה׳ אלפים ול״ג לפרט
הצור יפקד נשמת בגן עדן סלה
Learning by Doing
  1. For the following consult Structure of an EpiDoc Edition, esp. the paragraph titled Edition
  2. Copy&Paste the text of the headstone in the <text> element surrounded by the <div type="edition>-Tag as well as the tag for an anonymous block <ab>
  3. How to express that the text is written on the front side of the object?<div type="textpart">
  4. Little tip: Use the Author mode …
  5. Add the language of the inscription <div type="textpart" xml:lang="he-Hebr"> Language-Script
  6. Encode the line-beginnings in Author mode <lb/>
  7. Look at the result in Text mode
  8. Number the beginning of the lines <lb n="1"/>
Learning by Doing
  1. Take a look at the List Of All Transcription Guidelines and discuss
    what may be relevant for the Encoding of our example ffb-98
  2. numbers, see Numbers/Numerals Of Known Value <num value="33">
  3. abbreviations, see Abbreviation Fully Expanded or
    Expansion Of Abbreviation Including Symbol/Characters
  4. Line breaks in words <lb n="4" break="no"/>
  5. Editorial Restoration: Segmented Or Adjacent Lacunae
    <gap agent="damage" reason="lost" unit="character" quantity="2"/>
    or <supplied reason="lost">בח</supplied>

no more fuzziness …

Thus, for the traditionally trained epigrapher (classicist, humanist) an EpiDoc or a more general DH training leaves the sense of a distinct change of methodology. This change, however, is usually perceived as an improvement, the ‘scientific’ methodology adding more detail and nuances to the publication, though sometimes it can leave an uncomfortable feeling of not being allowed any fuzziness.

Bodard and Stoyanova 2016

Example file

result at the end day one




Why store data about an object, when you have the object itself? Because without data about the objects contained in a space, any sufficiently complex space is indistinguishable from chaos.

Pomerantz 2017

The TEI Header – A proposal

        <title>title of document</title>
        <idno type="filename"></idno>
                <idno>inventory number</idno>
                        <support>description of object/monument  
                            (likely to include <material/> 
                             and <objectType/> information, <dimensions/>, etc.)
                        <layout>description of text field/campus</layout>
                    <handNote>description of letters, 
                        possibly including <height>letter-heights</height>
                    <origPlace>Place of origin</origPlace>
                    <origDate>Date of origin</origDate>
                <provenance type="found"> Findspot and circumstances/context</provenance>
                <provenance type="observed">Modern location(s) 
                               (if different from repository, above)</provenance>
Learning by Doing
  • Install EpiDoc Oxygen framework
  • Help > Install new add-ons > Show add-ons from >
  • Insert the following link:
  • > next > finish
  • Restart Oxygen
  • To activate the framework, one has to change the end of the file to _EpiDoc.xml or .EpiDoc.xml

EpiDoc Framework

Learning by Doing
  • Follow the Framework structure
  • Switch to the Author Mode


Recommendation: CreativeCommons Choose a licence

Form follows Function

What characterises this class of objects is that they form a whole with their physical support. Indeed, the meaning of an epigraph cannot be fully understood without the analysis of the object or monument or other archaeological object on which it appears, just as one cannot fully understand the nature of that particular archaeological object without thoroughly investigating the sense of the inscription or iconographic representation it hosts"

Felicetti et al., 2016

authority files & controlled vocabularies

By using controlled vocabularies project-specific findings are addressed by unique identifiers [digital shelf mark]

Shoes of Frankfurt

A Frankfurt house emblem becoming a familyname

1607 1612 1774 1782 1795 1805
ffb-444 ffb-2057 ffb-55 ffb-1584 ffb-52 ffb-1678
Schlomo Schuh Grotwol Breinlen bat Schlomo Joswel ben Schlomo Schuh Schönle bat David Rapp Breinche bat Süskind Leidersdorf Gitle bat Izek ben Jaakow Hanau SeGaL
… and displaying 200 years of shoe-design engraved in headstones


Symbols, ornaments, decoration found on Jewish headstones as well as biblical quotations in the epitaphs or the materials of the headstones or the type of script used are not strictly limited to Jewish cultural life.
  • Refering to authority files and use of controlled vocabularies help to disseminate the results of our research

Example file

result at the end of day two



Epigraphic Projects

Sharing Data: PEACE Portal and DARIAH-DE

IIP – Inscriptions of Israel | Palestine epidat – Database of Jewish Epigraphy DIO – Deutsche Inschriften Online
quantity 3.634 34.221 ca. 18.000
time 500 BCE - 640 CE midth 11th - 20th century 500-1650 CE
space Israel | Palestine Germany | The Netherlands | Czechia | Lithunia Germany | Austria | South Tyrol
Genre Different Funeral Inscriptions Different
Format EpiDoc: TEI XML for Epigraphic Documents
Example QUAMR0001 ffb-80


XML-paths works both for

<!-- path to edition -->
/TEI//body//div [@type='edition']

<!-- path to persons -->

<!-- metadata -->
<!-- data -->

Texts published online with EpiDoc source available

These projects are the source of most examples used in the Guidelines.

EpiDoc Community

From XML to www.mydata.html

Learning by Doing
  • Oxygene provides TEI default stylesheets
    Document > Transformation > Apply Transformation Szenario
  • Download the EpiDoc Stylesheets here
  • /* Hebrew support added to EpiDoc Stylesheets by MG|TKOL 2018-02-21 */
    div[lang="he-Hebr"], div[lang="he-Hebr"] span.ab {
    direction: rtl;
    unicode-bidi: bidi-override;

EFES – EpiDoc Front-End Services


Building up a community

Join the Network JewishEpigraphy_network


Digital Epigraphy and EpiDoc


More … 


סוף דבר הכל נשמע