Professor Dahl, Dr Arfaee, and Dr Nokandeh launch the CDLI webpage
Jacob Dahl announces collaboration with the NMI to digitise cuneiform tablets

Published on:

Monday 28 May

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Jacob Dahl, Professor of Assyriology and Fellow of Wolfson, announced the digitisation of all cuneiform texts in the National Museum of Iran at an event in Tehran on May the 6th.

“At a time when more and more resources from Humanities research are transferring to the Internet, and therefore serving both expert and informal learning communities worldwide, we are pleased to announce the beginning of a project to digitise the collections of the National Museum of Iran and to present the results of the collaboration online”, says Jacob Dahl. The “Digitization Project of the Inscriptions of the National Museum of Iran” is a joint effort of the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative (CDLI, https://cdli.ucla.edu) and the National Museum of Iran. The project was first proposed by Jacob Dahl and Jebrael Nokande, Director of the National Museum of Iran, during a two-day Tehran workshop in May 2016 that was dedicated to the digitization of cuneiform tablets, followed by a Proto-Elamite reading group held by Professor Dahl.

The national museum, designed by the French architects André Godard and Maxime Siroux, and built by two Iranian masons, opened its doors in 1937, and houses today collections of 300,000 historical artefacts. The cuneiform collection, consisting of documents from the fourth millennium BC to the first century AD, is among the most comprehensive in the Middle East, containing clay tablets, bricks, and stones bearing ancient texts written in proto-Elamite, Elamite, Sumerian, Akkadian, Urartian, and Old Persian.

The project partners signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2017, and the first group of Proto-Elamite tablets were scanned and digitised in January 2018 by Oxford staff member Parsa Danshmand, in cooperation with the Head of the Tablet Department, Simin Piran, and assisted by Yeganeh Sepideh. A second group of tablets were scanned and digitised by the same team, with the addition of Professor Dahl, in May 2018.

The collection is of great importance for understanding the use of writing in Iran, and cuneiform culture in general. The earliest examples of writing in the collection are among the most important of their kind. The National Museum of Iran and CDLI hope to complete the collaborative capture of all NMI texts by the summer or fall of 2019. Their efforts to digitize and disseminate all available documentation on NMI’s extensive cuneiform collection can be found here.