Work-in-progress in Hesperia: a promising transcribing tool.



There is nothing new about admitting that Epigraphy and epigraphists are adapting their needs to the digital world, whose resources, when applied in a proper way, have an unlimited potential: searches, picture digitalisations; 3D reconstructions; GIS location of sites or finding places; improvement in the mark-up of texts, in any language or writing; UniCode development… The creativity of these scholars devoted to ancient languages and writings knows no borders.

In our last AELAW Training School (Jaca, September 7-12, 2015) we witnessed a step forward in the application of informatics to Epigraphy. In their introductory talk to Banco de Datos de Lenguas Paleohispánicas Hesperia, E. Orduña and E. R. Luján explained the details of the task they are currently developing. When they finished, all the researchers (especially Spanish researchers) had a smile on our faces.

Digitalisation of Palaeohispanic Southwestern inscriptions had always given the Hesperia team the willies, since these texts are really difficult to transcribe: on one hand, we ignore the phonetic value of many of their graphemes; on the other hand, there is no consensus on the value of many others. Well, we will see how such an inconvenient can give way to great solutions in the next months. Thanks to his deep knowledge both on Palaeohispanics and computing, E. Orduña has developed the possibility of choosing freely the phonetic value of controversial graphemes and, what’s more, applying this personal choice to every inscription of this complicated corpus.

This tool will give rise to a quick progress on our understanding of this complicated epigraphic ensemble. It will enable any researcher to create new combinations, which can even be tested in a very simple way.

This will be for sure one of the strengths of Hesperia in the medium-term. Nowadays, and since June 2014, all those interested in Hispanic fragmentary attested languages and writings are invited to discover the already-published databases on Epigraphy (Celtiberian, Narbonensis Iberian and Lusitanian), Numismatics and Onomastics; and the research resources they offer (map server, search engine, tables). Techno-esceptical epigraphists, historians and philologists will surrender to its charms.