Sunday, May 03, 2009

Digitized Persepolis tablets now online

In another example of application of HP's Polynomial Texture Mapping technology, the University of Chicago is digitizing thousands of cuneiform tablets from the Persian fortress at Persepolis. Apparently, hundreds of the images are now available online. The article includes a video but it must be HD as it was so choppy it was difficult to watch. I only have a 1.5 Mps DSL connection as I live out in the countryside.

High-resolution images of about 200 Persepolis Fortification texts are available on InscriptiFact, on the Web site of the West Semitic Research Project, Several hundred more will be available soon.

Images of about 150 more Persepolis tablets, along with editions and analytical tools, will soon be released on the On-Line Cultural Research Environment, the archaeological and textual database and presentation application developed at the Oriental Institute and maintained by the Library (

These ancient tablets from the palaces of Persepolis include pieces of language and art from the center of the Persian Empire, all made when it extended from India and Central Asia to Egypt and the Mediterranean.

The tablets being digitized come from the Persepolis Fortification Archive, some 30,000 administrative tablets and fragments that Oriental Institute archaeologists recovered in 1933 at Persepolis, the ruined palaces where the kings of the ancient Persian Empire held court. Since 1936, they have been on loan from Iran to the Oriental Institute for analysis and recording.

“They were written, sealed and filed in a short span of time, between 509 and 493 B.C., in the middle of the reign of the Achaemenid Persian king Darius I,” Gil Stein, Director of the Oriental Institute, said. “The oldest Greek tragedy of Aeschylus, and the first Greek history of Herodotus tell us about the reign of Darius, but they don’t tell us anything like this. The administration that these documents record touched every level of society, from lowly workers through bureaucrats and governors to the royal family itself,” he said. - More: University of Chicago Chronicle