Ontologies and Cuneiform

I am a first year PhD student, based at the Web Science Doctoral Training Centre  and the Archaeological Computing Research Group at the University of Southampton. My research looks at Linked Open Data and literary compositions from ancient Mesopotamia, written  in cuneiform. Today, I’m going through some translations of Sumerian narrative mythologies in order to identify one that I can use as a case study  to compare and contrast different ontologies for the representation of the same text.

It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks, starting off with the amazing LAWDI (Linked Ancient World Data Institute) at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW) in New York, at the end of May 2012. Other lawdites have already mentioned it (see, for example,  Archaeological Computing and Linked Data), and I too, immensely enjoyed listening to colleagues talk about their research and interests in Linked Data and archaeology. For me, it was a fantastic opportunity to meet experts and discuss my ideas and approaches with  the community of specialist working on and implementing projects so relevant to my studies.

Later on in June, I had the opportunity to give a paper at acm Web Science 2012 in Chicago. The three weeks in between WebSci12 and LAWDI were spent touring Philadelphia, Washington DC, Virginia, Toronto and finally Chicago. Museum visited included the Met, the Penn Museum and the science centres at both Toronto and Chicago. I also went to the Field Museum, and saw the most complete T rex skeleton ever found, Sue.

At the Penn, I met up with fellow lawdites, Steve Tinney and Brad Hafford (Ur Digitization Project), and got to see one of the coolest pieces of archaeology, ever: a terracotta “squeeze”. On the one side, it is an impression of an earlier, Old Akkadian (3rd millennium BC)  inscription, on the other, is an explanation in Neo-Babylonian (from c. 500BC). The image on the left is the impression of the Old Akkadian, the one on the right is the Neo-Babylonian…Apologies for sacrificing correct orientation for the sake of aesthetics!

Yesterday, I had the chance to describe my research and share my thoughts at the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College, London.  This continued on as a discussion about narrative ontologies – think Ontomedia, and the like.

Next week, no rest for the wicked. I’m enrolled –  and very much looking forward to! – the Digital Humanities Summer School 2012 at Oxford (DHOXSS).