IMLS Grant for Phase IV (October 1, 2016–September 30, 2018)

The Oriental Institute has carried out excavations across Syria and Iraq at sites such as Khorsabad, Nippur, Hamoukar, Tell es-Sweyhat, Tell Agrab, Khafaje, and Ischali. These sites face physical threats from looting, ideological destruction, and environmental factors. In certain cases, copies of excavation records retained in Middle East institutions have been destroyed in the current ongoing conflicts. The remaining records of these excavations held by the Oriental Institute have lain virtually unknown in our Museum Archives for the last 100 years. These collections were chosen for Phase IV because of the urgent need to preserve cultural heritage that is in increasing danger from conflict, ideological, political, and environmental forces across the Middle East. Phase IV of the OIM-IDB involved 1) the registration and digitization of archival material from Oriental Institute excavations in Iraq and Syria, 2) the migration of 40,000 Epigraphic Survey records from a 4D database to the KE EMu integrated database, 3) the registration and partial digitization of Epigraphic Survey paper records transferred to Chicago, and 4) an assessment of independent digital projects associated with Oriental Institute holdings. These datasets are a critical link in providing further metadata about the museum’s objects and publications now available through the integrated database, in particular information about discovery contexts and relationships to other objects. Records imported and created in Phase IV have been linked to the datasets that were transferred into the new database system during Phases I-III of the project and all non-sensitive data has been made available in full through the public search webpage.

Digitized, cataloged, and incorporated digital files into integrated database for 51,456 archival items as follows:

  • From Diyala related excavations: 5,163 object registration cards; 2,612 archival object photos; 2,446 locus cards; 1,008 pages from field object registers; 448 plans; 364 pages from field diaries; 198 drawings.
  • From Khorsabad related excavations: 3,423 object images; 1,147 negative registration cards.
  • From Tell Sweyhat related excavations: 10,896 object registration cards from ten boxes of archival material.
  • From general Oriental Institute excavation records (including excavations and expeditions to Iraq and Syria): 23,751 negative registration cards including the transcription of 21,944 of the negative registration cards.
  • Migrated 23,133 Epigraphic Survey records; produced, cataloged, and migrated 917 orthorectified digital facsimiles of inscribed talatat blocks from the block yard of Luxor temple in Egypt.