InscriptiFact, a Tool for Study of Ancient Near Eastern Inscriptions: Functionality and Useability

Dr. Leta Hunt,
Dr. Marilyn Lundberg,
Dr. Bruce Zuckerman
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InscriptiFact is a database application that provides high quality images and metadata of ancient inscriptions from the Near Eastern and Mediterranean Worlds. The inscriptions are some of the earliest written records from an international array of museums, libraries and field projects. The images represent historical documents that serve as a foundation and historical point of reference for Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the cultures out of which they emerged.

The opportunity to develop reliable and verifiable scholarly interpretations of ancient inscriptions is based substantially on the capacity to distinguish the data from extraneous "noise," of abrasions, holes, tears, and other damage — a task typically requiring numerous meticulously produced images of each text.

InscriptiFact provides the capability to bring together, view and compare high resolution images of text-fragments located at various institutions, thus decisively advancing the ability of researchers to reclaim inscriptions and interpret their meaning. It employs various strategies to facilitate easy, intuitive access by scholars including a two-dimensional spatial search, transparent boolean query construction based on multiple access points, a multi-image viewer, flexibility in resizing and moving images, and other features.

InscriptiFact has been available as a platform-independent database application since May 2003. 10,000 images will be available by the end of 2004 and 20,000 images by the end of 2005. The intermediate objective is to include more than 100,000 images from the archive of the West Semitic Research Project at University of Southern California. The long-term vision is to make InscriptiFact a globally distributed database of images of ancient inscriptions.

This paper will focus on the useability of InscriptiFact by scholars and researchers of ancient inscriptions. It will discuss the functionalities that make InscriptiFact especially useful to its target audience and will report the results of a useability study now underway.

Keywords: InscriptiFact, West Semitic Research Project, Near East, Inscriptions, Useability
Stream: Human Technologies and Useability
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: InscriptiFact, a Tool for Study of Ancient Near Eastern Inscriptions

Dr. Leta Hunt

Associate Director InscriptiFact Project, Information Services Division, University of Southern California

Dr Leta Hunt is Associate Director of the InscriptiFact Project at the University of Southern California. She is primarily responsible for application and system development. She has been involved in management of software development projects for the last nine years and with InscriptiFact since its inception in December 1998. She has published a variety of papers on spatial search, accessibility to spatially referenced digital data, spatial organization, and digital preservation. She has a PhD in psychology and a M.S. in library and information science.

Dr. Marilyn Lundberg

Associate Director West Semitic Research Project, West Semitic Research, 12 Empty Saddle Rd., Rolling Hills Estates, CA 90274

Dr. Bruce Zuckerman

Director InscriptiFact/West Semitic Research Projects, Professor of Religion, College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences, University of Southern California

Ref: T05P0144