The Archive of the Griffith Institute and the Internet.

Egyptological archives represent the third element in our scholarly scheme which aims to safeguard sources of information about ancient Egyptian civilization. The other two are the conservation and preservation of monuments in situ and in museums and other institutions, and the publication of Egyptological research in books and periodicals, as well as in electronic and other forms. The archives contain documentation which has not been published or which may provide additional information and retain its importance even after publication. Sometimes the informative quality of archive material is enhanced by other considerations, such as its artistic or historic value, which may demand that it is preserved for posterity.

The changes taking place in Egypt where industrialization and intensification of agriculture, together with the growth of towns and villages and a huge increase in tourism, pose a serious challenge to the preservation of ancient remains, constitute one main reason for the significance of archival records. Archive documentation often provides information which is no longer obtainable on site. Furthermore, scholars in the field now collect much more information than can be published in the standard forms (although electronic publishing will improve this situation very considerably).

The Archive of the Griffith Institute is the largest specialized Egyptological archive in the world and some of the methods and procedures developed, tested or employed here are used as benchmarks by Egyptologists elsewhere. It also provides an immense resource of commercial potential.

While preservation, identification and cataloguing of the archive material is of paramount importance, such work would serve little useful purpose if scholars were not able to consult this material as a matter of course during their research. We have always actively encouraged scholars interested in the publication of our material but this is a long-term rather than immediate solution. Until now it has been necessary for scholars to come to Oxford and while such personal contact is mutually beneficial, the expense and time required present serious difficulties.

The Internet and CD-ROM publishing now offer completely new ways of dealing with this problem. We have experimented with making our material available on the Internet for nearly two years (since August 1995) and now firmly believe that the future of the Archive is closely linked to the Internet. (We have to thank Dr Jonathan Moffett, IT Manager of the Ashmolean Museum, for his never failing advice and practical help.)

We intend to use the Internet in order to provide scanned colour images as well as transcripts of accompanying texts (which can then be electronically searched for desired terms) for all our material as long as there are no copyright or moral restrictions. The presentation will be hierarchical, starting with (1) the list of the main groups of material in the Archive (similar to that presented elsewhere in this pamphlet), and proceeding with (2) descriptions and additional information on individual items in the group, down to (3) a scanned image of the item and, where necessary, a transcript of the text. Examples of this approach can already be seen on the Griffith Institute's web pages (../Griffith.html). The work on such presentation of our archive material will intensify greatly in the near future.

(July 5, 1997)

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