Introducing the EpiDoc Collaborative: TEI XML and tools for encoding classical source texts

workshop / tutorial
  1. 1. Gabriel Bodard

    King's College London

  2. 2. Greta Franzini

    Universität Leipzig (Leipzig University)

  3. 3. Simona Stoyanova

    Universität Leipzig (Leipzig University)

  4. 4. Charlotte Tupman

    King's College London

Work text
This plain text was ingested for the purpose of full-text search, not to preserve original formatting or readability. For the most complete copy, refer to the original conference program.

The EpiDoc Collaborative is a set of guidelines, schema and related tools for the encoding of epigraphic and other ancient text editions in TEI XML. The first EpiDoc Guidelines, published in 2000, arose jointly from work on Latin inscriptions by scholars at the University of North Carolina, and from work by the EAGLE Commission of the Association Internationale de l’Epigraphie Grecque et Latine. Since then, many major online editions of inscriptions have been published using EpiDoc, including the Inscriptions of Aphrodisias, Vindolanda Tablets Online, US Epigraphy Project, Inscriptions of Roman Tripolitania, Pandektis (Upper Macedonia, Aegean Thrace and Achaia), Roman Inscriptions of Britain, and now massive corpora such as the Duke Databank of Documentary Papyri, Datenbank zur jüdischen Grabsteinepigraphik and the EAGLE Europeana Project, make use of EpiDoc in their workflow.

Although conceived as a standard for digital epigraphy and papyrology, EpiDoc is also applicable outside these fields. It is well documented, and provides for numerous levels of transcription detail, while staying flexible enough to accommodate various structures of texts and editions. One of the main reasons behind the pending conversion of the Perseus Digital Library to EpiDoc-based TEI P5 is to ensure compatibility with the already existing epigraphic and papyrological corpora in EpiDoc. The EpiDoc standard (, a specialization of the TEI originally developed for classical epigraphy and papyrology, is now being used for a broad range of texts which require deep and detailed markup as a result of the complex relationship between the text and the object on which it is written. Literary collections such as the Perseus Digital Library at Tufts and the Digital Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum (DFHG) in Leipzig have recently adopted the EpiDoc schema for this very reason. In addition, the SoSOL EpiDoc editing interface has served as the basis of the Perseids platform, in development by the Perseus team, with further functionalities for editing and annotating texts online.

An average of two to three times per year, a week-long EpiDoc training workshop is held for trained epigraphists and papyrologists with no technical background. These workshops, run in London and elsewhere, regularly accommodate 20 or so students (at all levels from graduates to professors), and are always over-subscribed, sometimes with 50% or more applicants having to be turned away due to lack of space. These week-long events allow time for a basic introduction to XML, detailed discussion of epigraphic features (including text and edition structure) rendered in TEI, plenty of unstructured “workshop” time, and introduction to tools such as the Papyrological Editor and Example Stylesheets for rendering HTML editions. A one-day tutorial would obviously focus on a more limited subset of this material, necessarily covering it in less detail, but assuming a bit more technical experience as a starting point from a digital humanities audience.

This tutorial will benefit students, scholars and researchers as well as the general public interested in reinforcing their existing XML skills and learning to apply these to other materials and contexts (linked data).

The aim of this tutorial is to bring together international students, scholars and researchers already familiar with XML technologies to listen to their perspectives and needs, with a view of coupling research and practice by increasing their knowledge, enhance their skills and change their attitude towards the study and representation of a text. The tutorial will look at ways in which different classical source texts can be integrated and thus enriched via EpiDoc annotation, providing a testbed for larger and more complex projects. By the end of the tutorial, participants will be able to approach and analyse a text from an editorial and technical standpoint, with a view to expanding their knowledge to encompass a richer and wider variety of texts, join the EpiDoc community and pass on their skills.

The day will begin with a short introduction to EpiDoc, its history and the theoretical basis of EpiDoc encoding. We will give an overview of the structure of a traditional epigraphic or papyrological edition, with reference to examples from databases and print editions, and show how TEI elements are mapped to the semantic distinctions and fields of such an edition. Some time will be given for practice. We will continue with further discussion of the Leiden Conventions (a set of rigorous and arbitrary sigla for encoding editorial features of transcribed text, in use in the classical discipline since 1931) and how we map TEI elements to the semantic features that they represent. The EpiDoc Guidelines and further examples will be shown, and more time given to practice. As a self-checking mechanism, students will be shown how to transform their EpiDoc XML files into an HTML page that represents the edition according to the conventions, using the example XSLT stylesheets provided by the EpiDoc collaborative.

The afternoon session will start with an introduction to the Papyrological Editor and the use of a tag-free interface. Participants will have the opportunity to enter a papyrological text into the database as an exercise. We will continue with a discussion on the principles of crosswalking; examples include EpiDoc to EDH and HGV to EpiDoc, as well as an example of EpiDoc’s applicability to non-epigraphic material with the ongoing conversion of the Perseus Digital Library. Finally, we will explore the ways in which EpiDoc data can be linked with other resources and shared using RDF (Resource Description Framework). We will illustrate this using examples from resources such as Pelagios [], and will discuss ontologies that are relevant to materials encoded using EpiDoc, including Pleiades/Pelagios, SNAP:DRGN, and the Eagle Europeana project.

Participants are welcome to bring questions and problems arising from their own texts, and where feasible we will target these needs in our presentations and exercises.


Introduction to EpiDoc, history and theory
Structure of an epigraphic edition
Leiden conventions
How to transform your EpiDoc to a HTML page

Using the Papyrological Editor
Principles of crosswalking
Exposing EpiDoc as Linked Data
introduction to Linked Data/RDF
ontologies and vocabularies
Gabriel Bodard is a researcher in digital epigraphy at the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London, and one of the lead authors of the EpiDoc Guidelines and toolset. He was on the Technical Council of the TEI for six years, and has been teaching EpiDoc workshops regularly since 2004.

Greta Franzini is a Classicist and a Digital Humanist. She works as a Research Associate for the Open Philology Project at the University of Leipzig. She is also undertaking a PhD under the supervision of Dr. Melissa Terras and Simon Mahony at the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities, where her research on electronic editing will ultimately inform the production of her own edition of the oldest surviving manuscript of St. Augustine’s De Civitate Dei.

Simona Stoyanova is a Classicist who specialises in epigraphy, and a Digital Humanist. She works as a Research Associate for the Open Philology Project at the University of Leipzig. She is also doing a PhD in Digital Classics at King’s College London. Her research is focused on the Greek and Latin epigraphic traditions in the mixed language population of the province of Thrace, with particular interest on palaeographical issues and their possible investigation through the DigiPal framework.

Charlotte Tupman is a Research Associate at the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London. Her background is in Classics and Epigraphy, having studied Classical Archaeology at King’s College and completed her PhD on Roman funerary inscriptions at the University of Southampton. Since then she has worked on various ancient and modern text projects at the Department of Digital Humanities. She has been co-teaching the EpiDoc workshops since 2006 and is currently contributing to the latest version of the EpiDoc Guidelines. She also co-organises the regular UK Practical Epigraphy

If this content appears in violation of your intellectual property rights, or you see errors or omissions, please reach out to Scott B. Weingart to discuss removing or amending the materials.

Conference Info


ADHO - 2014
"Digital Cultural Empowerment"

Hosted at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Université de Lausanne

Lausanne, Switzerland

July 7, 2014 - July 12, 2014

377 works by 898 authors indexed

XML available from (needs to replace plaintext)

Conference website:

Attendance: 750 delegates according to Nyhan 2016

Series: ADHO (9)

Organizers: ADHO

  • Keywords: None
  • Language: English
  • Topics: None