EpiDoc represents a growing, global collaboration of humanists and information technologists (a.k.a., the 'EpiDoc Community') whose joint aim is the creation of flexible but rigorous standards and tools for the digital encoding and interchange of epigraphic documents.
In 2000 Tom Elliott (then at UNC-Chapel Hill) published, in response to a call for open standards from the electronic publication committee of the Association Internationale d'Épigraphie Grecque et Latine, a set of guidelines for the encoding of classical Epigraphic Documents in TEI XML. Since then the EpiDoc DTD has been much revised and customised, largely through the application of the XML guidelines to a wide range of projects, not only Greek and Latin (Etruscan, Hebrew, Cuneiform...) inscriptions, but papyri, coins, seal impressions, medieval and early modern inscriptions, south-east Asian texts. In recent years EpiDoc development has moved very closely in parallel with TEI P5, such that although the EpiDoc DTD is built in P4 using Pizza Chef, many P5 elements and functionalities have been locally imported to the DTD customization files (notably <choice> and <msDesc>), and some EpiDoc customizations have been proposed to and incorporated in P5 usage (e.g. apparatus model, abbreviation usage, dating and range attributes).
EpiDoc Activities and focus
The primary focus of EpiDoc was originally the transcription of epigraphic text editions. It is a core philosophy of the EpiDoc guidelines that essential distinctions in the editing of ancient documentary texts are those defined in the Leiden Conventions, especially (although not exclusively) as articulated by Krummrey-Panciera.
In practice this means that of the many TEI recommendations for transcription of primary sources, critical apparatus, names and dates, etc., EpiDoc mandates a subset of these elements and sometimes even a single practice for the tagging of ancient texts.
Epigraphic and papyrological metadata crosswalking
The second major activity of the EpiDoc community has been to propose element/attribute combinations for the tagging of basic metadata for interchange with the major epigraphic and papyrological databases. The initial work on such crosswalking has been carried out with reference to the EAGLE and HGV databases.
The EpiDoc community also produce several Open Source tools for use by editors of epigraphic (and related) XML editions. Among which:
- EpiDoc Example Stylesheets (XSLT for rendering HTML, TXT or ODF representations recogisable by traditional editors )
- Transcoder (Java tool for translating between Beta Code, Unicode NF C, NF D, and other encodings )
- CHETC (python tool for converting conventional Leiden to EpiDoc XML)
- Crosswalker (abstractable, customizable tool for defining relationships between XML schemas) (defunct)
Concerete plan to move into conformant TEI P5 in Fall 2008 (some modifications to P5 already proposed).