Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Oxyrynchus Papyrus (Mt 12:24-33)
Over the past few years, there has been a growing interest in the power of crowdsourcing, or getting lots of people to each do a little bit of work.  Scientists in particular have utilized this to get people to go through huge amounts of data.  This approach has also been used in the humanities, in the collection of data for local histories, for example.

I recently wrote a post about WikiLoot, which is a crowdsourcing attempt to record provenances for antiquities and point out those which do not have any.  I have seen a few other examples that I thought might appeal to those interested in the ancient world and in biblical studies.

Another crowdsourcing project that I find very interesting is the Ancient Lives project, which is transcribing and measuring the many thousands of fragments of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri held by
Screen capture of transcribing a papyrus
Oxford University.  Even if you don't know Greek, you can transcribe by matching up the letters. This could even be used by Greek professors to teach their students the alphabet. It is a lot of fun and I think students would also appreciate that it is contributing to scholarship.   

The Oxyrhynchus Papyri are a huge cache of 1st to 6th c. CE documents found in an Egyptian dump, many of which are from the Hebrew Bible, New Testament and Deuterocanon. 

Another example that has gotten some recent press coverage is called the Pictish Puzzle, which is an attempt to reassemble an ancient statue, essentially a jigsaw puzzle of three thousand pieces.   I am particularly interested in this because, although this statue has nothing to do with biblical studies, it may provide a model for archaeologists in the future.  

Isaac M. Alderman
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