The Advanced Papyrological Information System (APIS) has been awarded another grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)—this time $370,000 to support the organization's work during the next two years, bringing the NEH's decade of support for APIS to more than $1.6 million.
Since 2000, the University of Michigan's efforts have brought the international project to the forefront of research.
There are 13 APIS partners in the U.S. and 15 in Europe, including the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia. The U.S. partners will now have this new grant to support their work during the next two years.
"The generous support of the NEH for nearly 10 years has made it possible to complete work on several collections in North America, many of which were neglected for several decades and were in dire need of conservation," said Traianos Gagos, U-M associate professor of papyrology and Greek and head archivist of U-M's papyrology collection.
"We hope that by 2007, all notable collections on this part of the Atlantic will be available to scholars and students worldwide. Even after 2007, work will continue on the very large collections at Berkeley and the University of Michigan, which are currently cataloging and digitizing unpublished papyri, that is, texts that so far have not been accessible to scholars outside these institutions," Gagos said.
Through the use of modern information technology, this virtual library of papyrological collections at http://www.lib.umich.edu/pap/ has been attracting more non-specialists to the most ancient of communications media—papyrus—making APIS a model to be followed. APIS makes it possible for viewers to explore digital images of ancient papyrus and examine detailed library catalog records about the material.
Found among the U-M collection is a letter from a Greek husband to his wife. "So when you have received this letter of mine," he wrote, "make your preparations in order that you may come at once if I send for you. And when you come, bring 10 shearings of wool, six jars of olives, four jars of liquid honey, and my shield, the new one only, and my helmet. Bring also my lances. Bring also the fitting of the tent. If you find the opportunity, come here with good men. Let Nonnos come with you. Bring all our clothes when you come. When you come, bring your gold ornaments, but do not wear them on the boat."
The APIS database contains more than 20,000 records, about 3,400 of them from the U-M collection. Columbia University is the technological host for APIS, offering access to the database at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/projects/digital/apis/search/.