Coptic and Syriac on the early WWW

I’m working now on an article about early Coptic and Syriac on the web.  Websites from the 1990s and very early 2000s.  I’m interested in how these sites functioned as digital cultural heritage sites and also how they contributed to technological advances in what we now term “digital humanities.”  I’m inspired in part by issues of canon:  canon in Christianity more generally, how canon affects cultural heritage preservation, and canon in DH history.

The article is coming together around these questions by putting Coptic and Syriac digital initiatives against the backdrop of the origin story of digital humanities, which I argue is substantially about canon.

The origin story is of course that of Roberto Busa, a Jesuit scholar who worked with IBM to create a concordance of Thomas Aquinas’s works that was built computationally, with punch cards and machines.  I usually see Busa referenced in DH circles as a sort of founder.  I’m interested as well in the roles Aquinas as canon and Busa’s institutional position play in how this account is narrated as a universal origin story for the linguistics and text analysis wing of Humanities Computing and Digital Humanities.

One of the challenges of web archival research (as Amy Earhart discusses in her fabulous book Traces of the Old, Uses of the New) is that sites simply disappear.  So those of you out there who know about Coptic and Syriac, I’m essentially asking for your help.  Or perhaps consider this public pre-peer review.  Here some important early sites I’ve identified.  Am I missing any?  With a url in hand, I can go into the way back machine and see what’s been archived.

stshenouda.org and stshenouda.com

coptic.net

dukhrana.com

www.bethmardutho.org

coptic.org

st-takla.org/

peshitta.org

aramaicnt.org

moheb.de (though it seems to appear at the tail end of the time period I’m looking at)

And I’m also looking the commercial company Logos software.

Friends, what am I missing?

5 thoughts on “Coptic and Syriac on the early WWW

  1. One possible additional source you could add is a blog that I follow called http://www.roger-pearse.com. It is a gentleman who blogs mostly about Latin but also stays abreast of Syriac scholarship on the web. His name is (surprisingly?! =) Roger Pearse. He has been blogging since 2006 and maybe before that but I’m not aware of anything before that from him.

    • Thanks! Yes Roger Pearse has been a pioneer. I know his work but hadn’t thought of him in the Syriac context. Thanks for this.

  2. With regard to the early web-history of Syriac, you should talk to George Kiraz. He is the man behind bethmardutho.org and a long list of other digital projects. If he did not create it himself, he would certainly have noticed anything created on the web in the 90’s.

  3. I’m reading a book now, Fallen Glory by James Crawford and there is a chapter entitled, “The deleted city”, which chronicles the early history of GeoCities.com which was one of the first online communities and It think there was a sizable Syriac/Aramaic community. https://www.amazon.com/Fallen-Glory-Deaths-Twenty-Buildings/dp/1908699930?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0 The chapter details that most of the archives of the city have been saved by Richard Vijgen at http://www.archiveteam.org and I think some of it is at http://www.archive.org. Just search for “GeoCities”.

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