Category Archives: Project Planning

We’re upgrading!

Our project has had some amazing opportunities and exposure this academic year, and we’re only two months in!  To reflect this, our team is in the process of redesigning our webpage!  We have some great ideas and can’t wait to put them into place.

We also want to hear from you, though!  As our readers, supporters, and the whole reason why we’re doing this, we value your opinion and want to know what you’d like to see.  We would really appreciate it if you could take a minute to answer our poll and let us know what you would like to see on our website!  Vote on a particular aspect you think would be great to see upgraded or suggest your own!  We would love any feedback you have.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Project Planning, Uncategorized

Getting the Ball Rolling: Who Started This All, Anyway?

The first in our series of graduate student profiles concentrates on PhD student Chelsea Gardner, one of the founders of the project.


One of the best things about From Stone to Screen, in our humble opinion, is that it’s a project started by, propelled forward and maintained by graduate students.  Anyone who has ever met a grad student knows that we tend to be overworked, overtired and overstressed students who are overenthusiastic about one thing in particular, which is what we happen to be researching.  So the fact that we are voluntarily taking on extra work for a project is something that, while not exactly understandable, proves how much we all believe in it and how much we are willing to put into it.  To that end, we at From Stone to Screen have decided to showcase one student a month to demonstrate how much we are all pulling for the project to succeed and what we have done to bring it there.

IMG_4423

Chelsea Gardner showing off her squeeze making skills

This month’s student profile is on Chelsea Gardner, a fourth year PhD student in Classical Archaeology at UBC.  As our story goes (which you can find elsewhere in our various blogs), in the fall of 2012 there were a group of students in one of Dr. Lisa Cooper’s Near Eastern archaeology seminars – Chelsea was one of them.  Unlike most of the students involved in the project, though, Chelsea had an awareness not only of the Fuller artifact collection but also of the squeeze collection.  The day that Dr. Cooper brought the artifacts to class, Chelsea approached her immediately after the class was done to discuss the possibility of work with the artifacts in some capacity.  This coupled with Dr. McElduff’s seminar, Digital Antiquity, inspired several of the CNRS grad students to become involved in the project and pushed it in the direction of digital humanities.  As a group, Chelsea and the other students wrote proposals to the department in spring of 2013 and with that propulsion the project began to gain traction.

One of Chelsea’s goals from the beginning was to make it an open-access resource for anyone in the field, whether they studied at UBC or not.  “The beauty of any digitization project is that it makes it… as available as you make it.  The vision right from the start was to make this an open-access, universally accessible source for anybody who was interested in it.”  With that in mind, funding was a priority for the fledgling project.  They needed to get enough to be able to have a platform that was accessible to all.  What Chelsea and the others planned, though, and what actually happened were quite different.   She is both proud and impressed with the support both within and outside of not only the CNERS department, but UBC as well.  “I never would have imagined how successful it has become with the digitizing techniques and the grant funding we have gotten.”  Especially since it was worked on primarily by graduate students, the progress is even more impressive.

It was always a conscious decision to make it for grad students only.  There was the possibility of faculty advisement, but Chelsea wanted a graduate student project in order to make it solely student-run.  She wanted it to be valuable for each individual student who is involved as a means of professional development, something that can sometimes be difficult for multiple students to have the chance for.  “That was the impetus behind this entire project, was creating an opportunity for graduate students that didn’t exist before.”  From Stone to Screen has definitely delivered on that front; along with presenting for the local Vancouver branch of the AIA, our students have been able to present at the EAGLE conference in Paris, learn digitization methods that our field usually does not teach and create connections with other professions interested in Digital Humanities.

A hiccup in her plans for From Stone to Screen arrived, though, in the form of an amazing opportunity.  Chelsea learned that she was the Philip Lockhart Fellow at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens for the 2013-2014 academic year.  This was, needless to say, an opportunity she was unwilling to pass up but it also meant that she had to leave everything in Vancouver behind for a year.  It was hard for her to leave the project when it was only just getting on its feet, and she knew that bIMG_4411y going to Athens she would have to leave the project in the hands of others and watch it from afar. “It was very personally rewarding to watch this project develop that I’ve seen since its inception and just kind of explode.”  She still worked with Lisa Tweten over e-mail, giving advice and links when she came across them, but it was still a risk to leave it behind for a year. Watching it flourish from afar was something that she thoroughly enjoyed.

Now she is back in Vancouver, though, and enthusiastically finding new opportunities for the project to expand.  When I asked her if she thought the project would be able to grow past its current collections, her excitement was contagious.  She hopes that as From Stone to Screen grows and gains a larger public presence, private collectors would step forward and allow us access to their collections to incorporate into our database.  There is, obviously, the problem of trying to obtain private artifacts for our own collection that were collected before 1970.  The other problem is that many museums in Greece rarely allow scholars to make squeezes because it can cause some damage, plus many of the inscriptions have already had multiple squeezes made so it is unlikely that we will be able to enlarge our collection.  Chelsea hopes, though, that we can somehow borrow other collections, digitize it safely and then add it into our online collection to hopefully have the entire Athenian Tribute List on our database.

IMG_4421

Chelsea making a squeeze

Squeezes are still being made on site, though, and she hopes that we can gain some of those for our collection.  She recently made a squeeze at the site that she excavates at and once she has finished her research and work with it, she fully intends to donate it to the From Stone to Screen collection.  “I hope that is something that’s on everyone’s radar who is an archaeologist in this department who are going on projects and have the ability to do so,” she admitted.

As an archaeologist, though, it may seem confusing as to why she is so involved with a project to digitize epigraphic squeezes.  She works in the ancient historic period in Greece which means that there are epigraphic sources from the time period in the region where she digs – the value of the project for Chelsea is that is have given her the opportunity to handle squeezes first hand which is indispensable since she needs to make squeezes for her own research.  The squeeze that she made was also digitized using the same methods that we use at the project which gives her high quality images to work with.

Chelsea has two years left for her PChelsea GardnerhD, meaning that she can continue to closely work on the project and help see it through to the end of our current goals, but as we have seen in the last year it is already growing so much bigger than we had ever planned.  As with anyone in our field, though, she will go to wherever the jobs are when she’s finished and that most likely means leaving UBC.  This also means, though, that she will have to leave From Stone to Screen behind and give it off to the next generation, something that Chelsea regrets and wishes she could see it through to its completion. “The goal of Stone to Screen,” she admitted,” is for it not to ever be completed.”  She plans to follow it from wherever she is in the future and send whatever squeezes or support she can.  She vehemently believes that it is a resource that can grow indefinitely and she will be there to support it from afar.  Considering how much the project has grown, which just two years ago was just a random idea after a seminar, what will happen in the next two years before she graduates is impossible to tell.  You can see the pride whenever she speaks about the project, though, and I think it’s safe to say that wherever she ends up she will always support and help the current generation of students who are working on it.


Check out Chelsea’s blog posts!

Squeeze Making in the Athenian Agora

The Athens Epigraphical Museum: Where it all began…

Leave a comment

Filed under Archaeology, Digital Classics, Digital Cultural Heritage, Epigraphy, Project Planning, Squeeze Collection

Digitizing Squeezes for All to See – Presenting for the AIA in Vancouver, BC

Haley (left) and Heather (right) compare a squeeze to the epigraphic chart.

Haley (left) and Heather (right) compare a squeeze to the epigraphic chart.

If you are passionate about Classics and the ancient world in Vancouver, British Columbia, you might find yourself at the University of British Columbia once a month attending a lecture hosted by the local branch of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA).  This week, From Stone to Screen had the amazing opportunity to present at one of these public lectures.  This was unprecedented – no graduate student had spoken at a Vancouver AIA talk in over six years.  Two of our own, Haley Bertram and Heather Odell, were asked to present on the project and its goals.  And so, after weeks of preparing, they found themselves at the front of a classroom in Buchanan building presenting the project to the Vancouver community for the first time.

The room was full; whether or not that relieved any of the pressure is difficult to say.  We were excited to see that that so many people not directly involved with the department were interested in the project— something we hadn’t been able to gauge before—but this also meant that Haley and Heather also had a bigger audience than they expected to speak in front of.  For someone who fears public speaking, having a packed room can be almost terrifying.

These two budding academics, though, kept it cool and pulled strength from each other.  “It’s like having a built-in person who has to listen to your ideas,” Haley joked.

Haley (left) and Heather (right) joke while working on the lecture.

Haley (left) and Heather (right) joke while working on the lecture.

While the two agreed that it may have been less efficient to work with another person, having the support and sharing the workload made the entire process easier.  They split the workload evenly between themselves and also decided to hand off different sections to one another during the talk.

Ultimately, they appreciated that the audience was composed of members of the public.  Until now, while From Stone to Screen has had several opportunities to write about the project, the presentation opportunities have been limited to department seminars, undergraduate classes and the UBC CNERS Graduate Conference this past May.  Haley and Heather were approached by several people in the audience after the talk who were interested in the new digitization methods and who wanted to speak about the uses for the new databases.  Having the feedback made all of the stress worth it in the end.

Heather Odell (left) and Haley Bertram (right) triumphant after their AIA talk last Tuesday.

Heather Odell (left) and Haley Bertram (right) triumphant after their AIA talk last Tuesday.

Despite the fact that they have both presented on From Stone to Screen before, Haley and Heather wanted to expand on the previous talks.  The work with Digital Initiatives this summer has catapulted the project forward significantly and they had a score of new images and techniques that they were able to share.  Working on a lecture that had already been presented several times, though, was more difficult than they had anticipated, especially since the first full-length version of it had been written by several of the graduate students involved in the project last year.  Writing this lecture, though, gave them the opportunity to gain new appreciation for the project and what it can do not only for the CNRS department but also others in the field.  Haley equated it to forgetting the thrill of finding artifacts on your first ever dig.  “You forget how super exciting that is… It’s cool to everyone else who hasn’t encountered it,” she mused, “you’ve just acclimated to it.”  Heather, who has worked on the project since its inception, agreed.  Talking to the audience members gave it new light again.  “You get a chance to step back and remember that what you’re doing is cool,” she added.

When I asked them if they felt the pressure of speaking to members of the public instead of members of the CNRS department, Heather said that it wasn’t so much the pressure to speak in front of strangers but the new information they needed to discuss.  So much has happened since the last talk in May that a large amount of it was still unfamiliar to them.  For the first time, the theme changed from ‘this is what we’re planning to do’ to ‘this is what we have done.’  Haley, on the other hand, was more concerned with the pressure of speaking at the AIA.  “Generally the people presenting are very respected in the field, they’re visiting scholars,” she explained.  The project is a collective work which helped, but there was still the pressure of presenting graduate-level work.

Members of the audience talk with the speakers about the squeezes following the talk.

Members of the audience talk with the speakers about the squeezes following the talk.

In the end, the talk ran a little over forty-five minutes (a relief to them both since they tend to speak rather quickly) and was hiccup-free.  Haley spoke about the background of the Athenian Tribute Lists and their importance to scholarship.  The high resolution images of our squeezes are allowing us to see details to the inscriptions that have never been seen before, and the timing of this with the reassembling of the original stone lists is perfect.  Ultimately our project wants to allow anyone to see copies of the inscriptions without needing to be in their physical presence, and having the information readily available to the public in an online database will help anyone wishing to work on the lists.  This is especially helpful since, by the very nature of how a squeeze is made, you have to read them backwards which adds more work to working on them.

Some of the artifacts from the Fuller collection were brought out for the audience to see, such as this Phoenician lamp.

Some of the artifacts from the Fuller collection were brought out for the audience to see, such as this Phoenician lamp.

In the end they were incredibly proud that the first talk of the season was on UBC work.  That and the interest at the end made them very proud of their talk – all of the feedback at the end reiterated that one of the project’s main goals, that is helping the public gain access to the artifact collection and the information on the squeezes, is something that is wanted.  The audience was enthusiastic about the information that can be gleaned from the squeezes and were even more thrilled at the chance to study the samples that Heather and Haley had brought with them to the talk.

Since our presentation to the Vancouver branch of the AIA, we have learned that our poster submission to the 2015 Annual Meeting has been accepted.  We are very excited to continue our AIA experience in New Orleans!

Leave a comment

Filed under Digital Classics, Epigraphy, Greek Inscriptions, Project Planning, Squeeze Collection

Fundraising update

The book sale raised $327.10 over two days and the bake sale raised $427.05. Clearly, the students and professors at UBC have their priorities in order, and food trumps learning. After expenses, we’ve raised $700.00 of the $8,000.00 needed to digitize the collection!

Chocolate cupcakes with Peanut Butter Icing. courtesy of Heather Odell

Chocolate cupcakes with Peanut Butter Icing. courtesy of Heather Odell

A huge thank you to Shalini Tandon and Heather Odell for organizing the book sale & bake sale respectively. We are also hugely indebted to the graduate students and professors of the Classics, Near Eastern & Religious Studies department for their generous donations of books and baked goods.

Special thanks to:

Shalini Tandon

Heather Odell

Andrei Mihailiuk

David Assaf

Miranda Iddon

Alexandra Cruz

Ana Goland

Sandra Cervantes

Natalie MacDougall

Patricia Taylor

Brad Morrison

Maude Côté-Landry

Kat Solberg

Haley Bertram

Christian Brady

Gwynaeth McIntyre

Kevin Pasman

for all their hard work putting the sales together & manning tables. Your hard work is appreciated!

Stay tuned for more fundraisers and project updates.

Leave a comment

Filed under Digital Classics, fundraising, Project Planning

Fundraising Events This Week at UBC

For readers who happen to be on or near the UBC campus this week, we’re having the first of many fundraising events to raise the money needed to digitize the squeeze collection.

Enjoy some delicious baked goods full of buttery, chocolatey, or bacon-y goodness, buy a few books to support your academic dreams (at a fraction of bookstore prices) or to indulge your guilty pleasures, and support a great cause!
BAKE SALE CNRS
The sale will be held this Thursday and Friday, Sept. 19th and 20th, from 10am – 2pm at two separate locations.
The book sale will be held on the 1st floor lobby of Buchanan A (near the cafe) and the bake sale will be held on the 2nd floor of Buchanan B (near the doors that lead into Buchanan C).
BOOK SALE
These are cash only events, so come with brimming wallets and empty bellies and backpacks!

1 Comment

Filed under fundraising, Project Planning

Project update and new features

When we began the project, we had no idea how many squeezes were in the collection, and we really did not know what condition they were in. One of the first steps has been to determine exactly what we have in the collection, and how many of the squeezes should be scanned. As we sorted through the collection, we realized that there are multiple copies of most of the squeezes.

IMAG0603

We have come up with scanning criteria that greatly reduces the number of squeezes we will initially scan, which also hopefully reduces the cost. We  have decided to scan only the clearest examples for each inscription, rather than the entire collection. This makes the most sense both financially and in terms of time – we can provide a digital library of the clearest squeezes in the collection, and will not be spending our time scanning multiple copies of the same inscription. In most cases, there are only minor differences in the copies. Where there is a great discrepancy, we are choosing the inscription that is the most intact. For the squeeze pictured below, we decided not to scan it because thought the letters are clear, the squeeze itself is very fragile and there was another copy of the same inscription that did not have holes in it.

photo 2We also chose not to scan squeezes that are discoloured or where the inscription is very faint, as below.

photo 1The majority of our work on the project at the moment is both dull and repetitive; we spend one afternoon a week sorting through the squeezes to determine which ones are clear and intact enough to be scanned, and typing metadata into an Excel spreadsheet. In light of that, we have decided to use this space to highlight other interesting work in digital humanities, starting with a series of interviews with UBC students who created their own digital classics projects this past spring. The projects included websites, interactive mapping, text analysis and podcasts. We look forward to sharing their innovative work with you.

Leave a comment

Filed under Epigraphy, Greek Inscriptions, Project Planning, Squeeze

Quick up date on the progress so far:

We met with Dr. Phillip Harding at the end of June, and he spoke to us about the history of the collection and epigraphy in general – look for a post on that soon.

Squeeze sample 

We’ve begun going through the squeeze collection to determine how many of them are legible and intact enough to scan for the website. So far, the majority of the collection is in very good condition, considering their age.

IMAG0603

UBC graduate students Chelsea Gardner and David Assaf, who are excavating in Greece this summer, had an opportunity to make a squeeze. They have a short video of the process which will be posted soon.

And finally, we have dates set at the end of August to photograph our artifact collection with LoA, and look forward to having the translation and transliteration of our cuneiform tablet available soon.

Leave a comment

Filed under Artifacts, Cuneiform, Epigraphy, Project Planning, Squeeze Collection