Title Bibliography in the Inscriptions of Israel / Palestine Epigraphic Project

Encoded by   Vanessa Hannesschläger

Encoded by   Daniel Schopper


The Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License applies to this text.


The Inscriptions of Israel / Palestine project (IIP) has been aggregating and transcribing previously published inscriptions and translations from Israel / Palestine from the Persian period through the Islamic conquest (ca. 500 BCE - 640 CE). There are about 15,000 inscriptions, written primarily in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Latin, by Jews, Christians, Greeks, and Romans. The project began under the direction of Michael Satlow at the University of Virginia in 1997, and has been located at Brown since 2002. Inscriptions are encoded using the EpiDoc Guidelines, and have extensive metadata that allows them to be searched and browsed on the web via a faceted interface.

Following practices described in the EpiDoc Guidelines1, IIP has been maintaining bibliographic entries in a master bibliography, and referring to these from individually encoded inscriptions. Since IIP has always employed student encoders, many of the selection criteria cited by Bański et al.2 apply to this project as well: Bibliographic data entry and editing has to be collaborative, web based and unambiguous. As a multilingual project, IIP also records Hebrew and Greek titles in their original character set.

In an earlier stage of the project, the bibliography was handled in a customized SQL database, which provided useful features such as controlled lists of journal abbreviations. When the project was upgraded in 2013, we decided to replace the custom bibliographic database with Zotero, which did not require maintenance on our part and had a versatile API, which allowed us to access citations directly when displaying an inscription in our interface. IIP assigns ID numbers to bibliographic entries, following the form [IIP0000], and uses the ID to reference a citation. Zotero also assigns ID numbers to bibliographic entries. However, these are automatic, and function as database keys, so they are essentially not part of the citation data: We decided therefore to store the IIP ID in the Zotero "Loc in Archive" field, on the premise that it is our project catalog number. In order for the Zotero API to retrieve a particular citation, we also save it as a Zotero tag for the entry, since the Zotero API can only access tags and a restricted number of bibliographic fields. Unlike the LingSIG bibliography, we didn’t need to convert our bibliography to TEI in order to integrate it into our inscription files. It was enough that the Zotero API, using the Citation Style Language (CSL), an open language used by a variety of citation managers, could provide formatted citations for our display.

Our original custom bibliographic system provided especially useful features for ensuring data integrity such as authority lists for journal names and abbreviations and specialized geographic tagging that made it possible to view all items pertaining to a particular location. It did not handle particularly sophisticated bibliographic structures however because we had customizations for each new type of reference. We lost these features when we moved to Zotero, but gained a different set of affordances such as the ability to handle more complex bibliographic structures, to use and customize Zotero’s formatted output. Zotero, as a native bibliographic system, can handle more bibliographic types than our own database could, although some complex older scholarly publications are still problematic.

We feel that our choice of an external bibliographic system – particularly Zotero, which is freely available, independently searchable, and can act as a re-useable, standalone bibliography of sources for inscriptions from Israel / Palestine – is an efficient choice that allows us to work with different types of material using the tools most appropriate for each. In the future, when the IIP corpus is complete, it will be necessary to incorporate full bibliographic entries as bibls into each encoded inscription for archival purposes.


  • Bański, Piotr/Majewski, Stefan/Stührenberg, Maik/Werthmann, Antonina: Building and Maintaining the TEI LingSIG Bibliography in: Journal of the Text Encoding Initiative , 3, 2012.
  • Citation Style Language.
  • Elliott, Tom/Bodard, Gabriel/Mylonas, Elli/Stoyanova, Simona/Tupman, Charlotte/Vanderbilt, Scott/, : EpiDoc Guidelines: Ancient documents in TEI XML (Version 8) , 2007-2014.
  • Rotger, Carlos: Using the Zotero API to Render Formatted Bibliography on a Webpage in: Center for Digital Scholarship News , 2015.
  • Satlow, Michael: Inscriptions of Israel/Palestine , 2002-2016.
  • , : 3.11 Bibliographic Citations and References. TEI P5: Guidelines for Electronic Text Encoding and Interchange. 3.0.0 , 2016.
  • Zotero.