The Connecting Late Antiquities project (CLA) at the Universities of Exeter, Bonn and London has been awarded a UK-German collaborative grant of c. £700,000 (c. €800,000), funded by the AHRC and the DFG. The principal investigators are Professor Richard Flower at the University of Exeter and Professor Julia Hillner at the University of Bonn, with co-investigators Dr Charlotte Tupman at Exeter and Dr Gabriel Bodard at the University of London. (Programme announcement.)
CLA uses new digital methods to transform our understanding of social relationships at the end of the ancient world. Prosopographical scholarship has traditionally focused on the privileged few who constituted the social and political elite, paying little attention to the rest of society and the traces their lives left behind. The main existing catalogues of late-antique people also separate the 'secular' sphere of government from the 'religious' sphere of the Church, exacerbating a notion of them as distinct realms.
This project challenges these categorisations, while also demonstrating the potential of Linked Open Data (LOD) to enrich the understanding of past societies. It will update and digitise the three-volume print Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire (PLRE), making it publicly available via the Cambridge University Press website. In addition, CLA will develop an electronic resource, built on digital standards including TEI XML and LOD, which combines the PLRE data with data drawn from prosopographies of the Church and surviving evidence for non-elite people. This digital resource will underpin two case studies: on clerical-lay social networks in late Roman North Africa; and on mobility and interactions between different social strata in late-antique Britain. This new, interoperable and linked resource will also serve as a hub for late antique digital prosopographical data currently fragmented across several online sites, in this way breathing new life into completed late antique digital projects and providing a stable base for new ones.
Dr Gabriel Bodard, Reader in Digital Classics at SAS, says, “We’re particularly excited to be working on this project over the next two years, as it intersects with several key interests of both the Institute of Classical Studies and the Digital Humanities Research Hub. The encoding of person-data in the CLA resource also builds on the Standards for Networking Ancient People recommendations that I worked on a few years ago, and several projects we have collaborated on involving Linked Open Data guidance for encoding people, places, texts, and related entities from the ancient and Byzantine worlds.”