Research on Old Babylonian archival texts: from digital editions to text analysis queries

Ein Beitrag von Marine Béranger

Archival texts make the substantial part of the epigraphic documentation from the Old Babylonian period (2004-1595 BC): from the 50,000 texts known for this period, ca. 34,800 are of administrative, legal, or epistolary nature. The content of these texts is a valuable source for historical, economical, and administrative studies. These texts also offer an important material for the study of the Old Babylonian language and script. The idea of my project is to make it possible to work on these different levels as easily as possible, according to one’s own research questions and concerns. My aim is thus to enable online queries on the vocabulary and syllabary of Old Babylonian archival texts. About 13,000 archival texts are currently edited in the Archibab database developed by the Pr. Dominique Charpin and his team in Paris (www.archibab.fr). Of them ca. 9,000 have been associated with an extensive set of metadata (place of writing, date, lemma and part-of-speech tagging, translation, etc.). Thanks to a funding granted by the research group Scripta-PSL (https://scripta.psl.eu), it is now possible to export these data outside of Archibab and create multi-layer annotated xmlfiles (with a lemma, part-of-speech, and syllabary tagging). The final step of my project –currently under development– is to make this corpus of texts available online, on a txm web portal. Txm is a text analysis software (http://textometrie.ens-lyon.fr) which offers different qualitative and quantitative tools. On the txm web portal, it will be possible to perform different studies on the corpus of Old Babylonian archival texts: retrieve the texts written in the same city, at the same date, mentioning the same individuals, etc.; study the words and their context of occurrence, as well as compare their meaning in the different social and language settings (contracts, letters, accounts, etc.); investigate the spelling of words in the different Mesopotamian cities and across the different centuries; analyze the different readings of a same cuneiform sign; and so much more. Eventually the corpus of xml files will also be downloadable on the Ortolang platform (https://www.ortolang.fr) –for colleagues wishing to study them with their own software.

 

Kurzvita

Marine BÉRANGER defended in 2018 her Ph.D. dissertation entitled “Développement des pratiques d’écriture et de l’expression écrite : recherches sur les lettres de l’époque amorrite (2002-1595 av. J.-C.)” (École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris). Research Assistant (A.T.E.R.) at the Collège de France in 2016-18, then PostDoc for the research project “EcritUr” in 2019-20, she is Research Assistant (Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin) at the Institut für Altorientalistik, Freie Universität Berlin, since October 2020. Her research focuses on the political, economical, and cultural history of Mesopotamia during the Old Babylonian period, as well as written communication and scribal education.

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