About the U.S. Epigraphy Project...

The goal of the U.S. Epigraphy Project (USEP) is to collect and share information about inscriptions from the classical Mediterranean world (primarily Greek and Latin) preserved in the United States of America.

The Project currently provides access to a database of some 900 Greek and 2,500 Latin inscriptions in the USA through browsing by collection and publication and by searching various categories of metadata (language, date, origin, type, material) and bibliographic information. A growing digital corpus of the collection registers some 1100 EpiDoc editions of Latin and almost 500 Greek texts and provides some 2200 images of the inscriptions registered by the Project, each of which is identified by a unique USEP number based upon its location.

Further information about any of the materials registered by the Project, which include texts in languages other than Greek and Latin (mainly Etruscan) from within the territory of the Roman empire and nearly 300 paper squeezes of Greek inscriptions from (mostly) Attica and the Greek cities of Asia Minor, may be sought directly from the Project staff at:

U.S. Epigraphy Project | Box 1856 | Brown University | Providence, RI 02906

phone: 401-863-3815 or 1267 | fax: 401-863-7484 | email: john_bodel@brown.edu

History of USEP

The U.S. Epigraphy Project (USEP) was founded by John Bodel at Rutgers University in 1995 to form a repository of information about ancient Greek and Latin inscriptions in the United States. Its immediate aim was to compile a preliminary inventory of ancient Greek and Latin inscriptions in American collections as part of an international effort co-ordinated by the then President of the Association Internationale d’Epigraphie Grecque et Latine, Silvio Panciera, who wished to present at the Eleventh International Congress of Greek and Latin Epigraphy in Rome in September 1997 an overview of the epigraphic patrimony of Greco-Roman antiquity preserved outside the Mediterranean world. That initial effort to survey the material resulted in the publication in 1997 of a checklist registering some 2,300 inscriptions (720 Greek, 1,575 Latin), which was presented at the Congress in Rome (J. Bodel and S. Tracy, Greek and Latin Inscriptions in the USA. A Checklist).

During the next five years (1997-2002), when the Project was located at Rutgers, the original Checklist catalog was entered into a FileMaker Pro Database and was enhanced by the addition of much metadata, and an initial HTML website was launched. At the same time, a series of initially promising, if ultimately fruitless, efforts was undertaken in collaboration with Susan Hockey and Wendell Piez of Rutgers’ Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (CETH) to design an SGML schema capable of incorporating all the categories of metadata presented by the eclectic materials in the USEP corpus, and a collaborative relationship was formed with the nascent EpiDoc team of epigraphists and information technologists working to produce a set of digital editing conventions based upon the conventional Leiden system but exploiting the new capabilities of flexible semantic encoding provided by XML.

The Project moved to Brown University in 2003, where the present XML-based website was originated and has been developed in cooperation with digital humanities specialists under the supervision of Elli Mylonas of Brown’s Scholarly Technology Group (2003-2008) and Center for Digital Scholarship (2009--). In 2008, the award by Brown University of a Salomon Grant for Faculty Research enabled the Project to combine digital encoding resources and initiatives with those of a sister project, the Inscriptions of Israel and Palestine (IIP), directed by Brown colleague Michael Satlow, in the formation of a Center of Digital Epigraphy (CoDE) at Brown.

The USEP site currently allows browsing of an enlarged database of some 3000 Greek and Latin inscriptions in the USA by collection and publication and searching of nearly all of these according to various categories of metadata (language, date, origin, type, material) and bibliographic information. A growing digital edition of the collection currently registers some 1580 transcriptions of Latin, Greek and other texts encoded according to EpiDoc conventions and provides some 2200 photographs and images of the inscriptions in our corpus.

USEP Contributors and Staff

Many people have contributed to the US Epigraphy Project over its history. The list below identifies those most involved in its work but does not register many whose contributions have been important at different stages, among whom are: Susan Hockey, Wendell Piez, Bryan Brinkman, David Thomas, Tori Lee, Sarah Bond, and Sophia Papandonatou.

In a different category altogether belong the core members of the EpiDoc team, with whom the Project has collaborated closely since 2000 on the development of EpiDoc and its practical application to the American epigraphic collection: Gabriel Bodard, Hugh Cayless, Charles Crowther, Tom Elliott, and Charlotte Roueché.

Designers and Developers

Many people have contributed to the development and design of the U.S. Epigraphy Project infrastructure and website. There has also been significant technical work done on maintaining and updating the epigraphic source files through different versions of TEI and Epidoc. The list below lists significant contributions.

Infrastructure of the Current Database and Site

The inscriptions in the U.S. Epigraphy Project are encoded in XML using the Epidoc Guidelines for encoding epigraphic documents in TEI XML. Inscriptions are stored in a GitHub repository which provisions the US Epigraphy Project website. The website is written in Django and relies on a Solr index to provide indexing for search, display and a public API. The project team members encode inscriptions using the <oXygen> editor with a customized Author mode to facilitate and constrain entering metadata. The website is always up-to-date as any new or edited inscription that is pushed to the main GitHub repository is automatically ingested and indexed. The encoding documentation for the U.S. Epigraphy Project describes how the project is using Epidoc, and documents encoding decisions.


The EpiDoc project is an international effort that has developed a TEI customization for the encoding of epigraphic documents. It is widely used in digital epigraphic projects, and has informed the development of other, related schemas such as SigiDoc for sigilography. For more information, see http://epidoc.sourceforge.net. The U.S. Epigraphy Project is actively participating in the development and maintenance of the EpiDoc Guidelines and in Epidoc training activities.


This website was implemented as a Brown Scholarly Technology Group faculty grant project that began during the 2003-2004 academic year. The STG faculty grant program supported research by Brown University faculty in the humanities and related disciplines and emphasized adherence to prevailing data and metadata encoding standards in the interest of ensuring the longevity and flexibility of faculty research. The development of U.S. Epigraphy was enhanced by the award of a Salomon Research Grant in 2008 for the consolidation of the digital encoding of ancient inscriptions in TEI conformant EpiDoc performed by STG/CDS for both USEP and a sister project at Brown, The Inscriptions of Israel and Palestine, the core projects of Brown’s Center of Digital Epigraphy (CoDE). In 2009 STG moved to the Brown University Library and was renamed as the Center for Digital Scholarship. It has continued to support the U.S. Epigraphy Project by providing web development, Epidoc support and encoding training.