The Inscriptifact Spurlock Museum Seals Project
Building on a long-term collaboration between the University of Illinois and the University of Southern California, I-CHASS is facilitating a cooperative venture that focuses on a collection of ancient cylinder seals currently housed at the University of Illinois’ Spurlock Museum. Researchers needed a way for their students to present the results of their analysis of digitized cylinder seal images. Since the team of student researchers is spread between the two institutions, a system capable of allowing collaborative editing of the site was required. Rather than developing this technology anew, I-CHASS leveraged an advanced portal originally developed for the NEH-funded RiverWeb project. As a continuation and elaboration of this highly successful undergraduate research partnership, I-CHASS will lead a major expansion of the project to digitize an additional four collections of provenanced cylinder and stamp seals. This project achieves two ends: first, it demonstrates the utility of innovative documentation tools that transform the imaging practices for this category of artifacts, both for secure identification and for research benefits; and secondly, it serves as a model, showing how high-resolution image data of basic importance in the humanities can be documented and distributed effectively worldwide through an infrastructure of networked academic institutions and through projects that feature undergraduate research.