MANAGING OUR PAST FOR THE FUTURE
The Oriental Institute Integrated Database Forges New Connections to the Worlds of Big
Data and Digital Humanities, at a Critical Moment for Cultural Heritage Stewardship
By Foy Scalf and Anne Flannery
“THE PROJECT IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT IN THE WHOLE RANGE OF HUMANISTIC RESEARCH. IT IS AN URGENTLY NEEDED TOOL. THE INSTITUTE IS THE OBVIOUS AGENCY TO PRODUCE SUCH AN ENCYCLOPEDIC ORGANIZATION OF THE EVIDENCES REVEALING THE LIFE AND HISTORY OF ANCIENT MAN.”
— JAMES HENRY BREASTED
The Integrated Database project is a long-term, large-scale, big-data project in the growing field of digital humanities. Producing a tool of this scale involves the labor of many individuals, including staff, faculty, students, and volunteers, all dedicating their time to further the mission of the Oriental Institute. An unexpected bonus from this project was the exponential increase in the number of volunteers working with us at the OI. They perform much of the laborious scanning, data entry, and accuracy checking needed for the success of the IDB. Many of them go on to serve as unofficial ambassadors for the OI and all things ancient Near East by recruiting others and spreading the word about their work here. It must be said that without the generosity of these individuals through their financial support and daily labor, projects such as the Integrated Database would never become a reality. The importance of this information to human history is
such that we all owe them a debt of gratitude.