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150 years, and more, of Teaching the Epigraphical Sciences (or, Epigraphical Training Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow)

Graham Oliver

Brown University

The modern student of Classics enjoys a thriving ancient world studies environment and can find one or other training course in Greek and/or Latin epigraphy. Some of these courses are associated with research or specialist institutions (The British School at Athens, The British School at Rome, the École française d'Athènes), while others are provided under the umbrella of a center for the study of Classics (Oxford University, Ohio State University), or a combination of such centers (The Epigraphic Spring Academy to be held in Rhodes, 2018, under the aegis of the Commission for Ancient History and Epigraphy within the German Archaeological Institute, Inscriptiones Graecae (Berlin), and the Department of Ancient History of the University of Heidelberg). Many University Departments offer regular courses in Greek and/or Latin epigraphy depending on the specialist interests of individual professors. In some academic contexts, the teaching of epigraphy has been institutionalised in the form of Chairs held by full Professors with special oversight for epigraphy (e.g. Lyon II, France). In Germany, Classics Departments can include Professorships with responsibilities for Epigraphy attached to the titular position. In France, the specialised training of epigraphy has become established in the École pratique des Hautes études and, at various moments, in the Collége de France, in addition to the regular provision of epigraphical training by scholars in the École normale supérieure, the institution responsible for the Guide de l'épigraphiste. But the institutionalisation of such roles has not been a long-established solution to epigraphical training in Britain and North America. There the relatively recent developments of the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents at Oxford University, the Sara Aleshire Center for the Study of Greek Epigraphy at Berkeley, and the Ohio State University Center for Epigraphical and Palaeographical Studies, complement the roles of other centers such as The Institute of Advanced Study at Princeton, and the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, the long-standing engines for epigraphical activity in North America since the early 20th century. All these developments rely, in various ways, on the capacity of institutions in Greece, Italy, Turkey, (and elsewhere) to support and facilitate such activities where important traditions and developments have made significant contributions to epigraphical training.

This paper offers both a review and an analysis of the training and teaching in epigraphy over the last two centuries, with a focus on Greek epigraphy. How do current provisions in the teaching of epigraphy today compare to the the situation of the 19th and earlier 20th centuries? What does the current provision for training in epigraphy tell us about the status of the epigraphical sciences? Since their development in the early 19th century, pioneered by Boeckh, author of the Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum, the epigraphical sciences have moved a long way. Now the "traditional" training in epigraphy is being quickly complemented by the skills required for engaging in digital epigraphy. Electronic publication now supplements the traditional paper-corpus, and the digital platform offers new ways of presenting material, viewing and storing images, and manipulating visual information.  In addition, since the 1960s, there have been regular (quinquennial) international congresses for Greek and Latin epigraphy. Since 1972 an International Association for Greek and Latin Epigraphy has existed. And in the last few decades, local chapters of the International body have appeared (the American Society for Greek and Latin Epigraphy, the British Epigraph Society). With the change in technologies and the ever shifting nature of higher educational funding, research, and graduate training priorities, what will the future bring? This paper offers an opportunity to present a history of epigraphical training, offers an overview of the current status of such provision, and raises questions about its future.

Session/Panel Title

Writing the History of Epigraphy and Epigraphers

Session/Paper Number

37.3

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