Mellon Foundation Grant Supports Papyrology Project

NEW YORK, August 15, 2007 The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded $500,000 to Duke University to support the development of a portal to provide integrated access to three major papyrological databases, the Duke Databank of Documentary Papyri (DDbDP), the Advanced Papyrological Information System (APIS), of which Columbia University is technological host, and the Heidelberger Gesamtverzeichnis der griechischen Papyrusurkunden Ägyptens (HGV), based at University of Heidelberg.  As part of the grant, Columbia’s Libraries Digital Program Division will further develop the Papyrological Navigator, an innovative interface that allows searching and retrieval against all three databases simultaneously.  Staff from the Centre for Computing in the Humanities,  King’s College, London, will develop a suite of scalable tools for conversion of the DDbDP’s Greek papyrus transcriptions into the Unicode / TEI / EpiDoc ( markup standard.

Duke and Columbia share oversight of the project, with Joshua Sosin, associate professor of classical studies at Duke, and Deborah Jakubs, Duke’s university librarian and vice provost for library affairs, taking the lead, along with Roger Bagnall, emeritus professor of classics and history at Columbia University and director of NYU’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World.  Jakubs said, "We are grateful to the Mellon Foundation for recognizing the exciting potential of this international collaboration among scholars and libraries.  It is a fine example of how the old and the new, papyri and technology, can be successfully connected in a project with immense potential."

DDbDP is a textual database of Greek and Latin documents preserved on papyrus (; APIS is a multi-institutional, international database of papyrus collections, covering all languages, with extensive metadata, digital images, and translations (; the HGV ( is a database of additional, authoritative metadata for essentially the same set of documents included in the DDbDP, as well as thousands of papyri accessible via APIS.  Since 2004, the three projects have taken a number of steps toward integration and stabilization.

The Mellon grant will support the building of a standards-based, open technical architecture that will establish these three key scholarly resources as a tightly integrated cluster: a single, coherent body of texts, translations, and metadata.  The melding of these combined resources within a single portal (demonstration version at will not only maximize their usefulness for research and teaching in the fields of papyrology, classical studies and others, but also serve as a model for other scholarly disciplines wishing to integrate and leverage their disparate electronic tools and databases.

Columbia University Libraries is one of the top ten academic library systems in the nation, with 9.2 million volumes, over 65,650 serials, as well as extensive collections of electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, and other nonprint formats. The collections and services are organized into 25 libraries, supporting specific academic or professional disciplines. Columbia Libraries employs more than 400 professional and support staff to assist faculty, students, and researchers in their academic endeavors. The Libraries’ website at is a gateway to its print and electronic collections and to its services.