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  • Looking beyond the text: Opportunities and challenges in the digitisation of Sanskrit inscriptions

    Francesco Bianchini

    Chapter from the book: Palladino C. & Bodard G. 2023. Can’t Touch This: Digital Approaches to Materiality in Cultural Heritage.

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    This chapter provides an introduction to the main digital repositories of inscriptions from South and Southeast Asia. The digitisation of epigraphs in Sanskrit and other languages has found considerable impetus in recent years, being the focus of two ERC Synergy projects as well as a number of other scholarly initiatives. While producing reliable editions and comprehensive metadata remains a central concern, the digital environment brings unique opportunities to move beyond traditional printed editions. The repositories introduced below already offer some practical solutions as to how this may be achieved, especially through a more integrated approach to the epigraphic object as a whole. This includes, among other aspects, recording object data as well as the physical layout of the inscriptions, and the integration of GIS technologies. Despite recent progress, the chapter argues that more can be done in this direction. Another aspect that deserves further attention is the development of the database itself, especially in terms of advanced search and query capabilities, as well as cross-database communication. Lastly, the chapter raises the issue of the historical complexities involved in standardisation and efforts towards decolonisation. It suggests that a diversified approach involving independent teams that nonetheless communicate with one another may be a viable way forward.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Bianchini, F. 2023. Looking beyond the text: Opportunities and challenges in the digitisation of Sanskrit inscriptions. In: Palladino C. & Bodard G (eds.), Can’t Touch This. London: Ubiquity Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5334/bcv.e

    This is an Open Access chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (unless stated otherwise), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Copyright is retained by the author(s).

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    Additional Information

    Published on Dec. 18, 2023


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