About the U.S. Epigraphy Project...

The goal of the U.S. Epigraphy Project (USEP) is to collect and share information about inscriptions (primarily Greek and Latin) from the classical Mediterranean world preserved in American public and private collections, currently some 85 in all, including one collection outside the territorial United States at the American Academy in Rome.

The Project currently provides web access to a database of about 3,500 inscriptions written in the languages of the Roman empire during the period covered by the two major corpora of Greek and Latin inscriptions (IG and CIL, ca. 800 BCE – 700 CE) through browsing by collection and publication and by searching various categories of metadata (language, date, origin, type, material) and bibliographic information. The database currently registers some 2200 inscriptions written in Latin, 850 written in Greek, 41 Greek written in Cypriot, 29 in Punic or Phoenician, 22 Etruscan, and a few each in the categories of “undetermined”, transliterated (Greek texts in Latin script and Latin texts in Greek characters), Hebrew, and Raetic. A growing digital corpus of the collection presents EpiDoc editions and English translations of about 1200 Latin inscriptions and more than 500 Greek texts, and provides some 2400 images of the objects registered by the Project, each of which is identified by a unique USEP number based upon its current location.

Since 2014 the Project has operated with a simple organizational structure comprising an Executive Committee consisting of the Director (John Bodel), the Project Manager (Scott DiGiulio) and the Project Technical Supervisor (Elli Mylonas), who collectively oversee the work of an evolving team of graduate and undergraduate encoders and, for specific tasks, occasionally a student or Brown staff software developer.

Further information about any of the materials registered by the Project, which include 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 | 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 (2009-2021). 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.

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, and Sarah Bond.

In a different category belong the original 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, especially Gabriel Bodard, Hugh Cayless, Tom Elliott, and Charlotte Roueché.

The small USEP team of (normally) three or four working members has evolved over the years but since 2014 has maintained a stable core staff of a Director (John Bodel), a Project Manager (Scott DiGiulio), and a Technical Supervisor (Elli Mylonas), who oversee the encoding and editing work of one or more student assistants. Those who have been involved with the Project in managerial roles over the years have gone on to successful careers in a variety of fields, including law and medicine, as well as academia (several USEP alumni hold professorial positions at universities in the USA and Canada) and museum curating (at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore).

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.