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News: Digital Humanities
Using the Turin Papyrus Museum Platform

Turin Papyrus Online Platform won European Heritage Award 2020

For the Europa Nostra 2020 Awards in the Research category.

Turin Papyrus Online Platform (TPOP) was awarded the European Heritage Award / Europa Nostra 2020 Awards in the Research category, following an announcement on May 7.

The Papyrus Collection of the Museo Egizio in Turin consists of nearly 700 whole or reassembled manuscripts and over 17,000 papyrus fragments. These document over 3,000 years of written material culture in seven scripts and eight languages originating from several locations. 

Since 2017, the Museo Egizio has been working to digitise their collection of papyri. The result was the Turin Papyrus Online Platform (TPOP), launched online in September 2019. TPOP includes the Ramesside hieratic papyri from Deir el-Medina, an ancient Egyptian village specially built for the workforce of the royal tombs, in close proximity to the New Kingdom royal cemeteries. Preserving a variety of texts produced for or by the highly skilled inhabitants of the village (where literacy rate was much higher than in the rest of Egypt), the collection gives an unusual insight in the way of thinking in this Egyptian community. It is thus one of the most historically important papyrus collections of the Museum, if not the world.

Still, in the future, TPOP will include all the papyrus material held in the Museo Egizio. It could also become a “European Papyrus Online Platform” connecting the collections of Egyptian written material stored in many different European cultural institutions. This would unite collections and fragments of writings in a way that would not be possible in the physical world.  

From a technical aspect, TPOP’s digitised documents are in high-resolution. They are also systematically linked with open metadata, which record their physical features and the writing and drawings they bear. Furthermore, TPOP is available in open-access and is a multi-user platform; Egyptologists, historians and scholars can work collaboratively on the material from multiple locations and contribute data freely. 

For its part, Museo Egizio is among the first museums to step away from the practice of granting permission to publish individual manuscripts to one single scholar, a policy which typically results in very few publications in proportion to the amount of papyri. And by making TPOP freely available, the Museo Egizio promotes research at the highest level, fostering collaborative research projects conducted by its own curators, individual researchers as well as long-established or recently formed teams of researchers. 

The European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards were promoted by the European Commission in 2002 and have since been managed by Europa Nostra – the European Voice of the Civil Society Committed to Cultural Heritage. The Awards are supported by the European Union’s Creative Europe program. The winners were selected by juries made up of heritage experts from all over Europe, based on an in-depth evaluation of the candidates from organizations and individuals from 30 European countries. Voting for a Public Choice Award among winners has been launched since May 7 2020, running till the 1st of September 2020. To vote click here.

NOTES
1. European Heritage Europa Nostra Awards, http://www.europeanheritageawards.eu/winners/turin-papyrus-online-platform-tpop/ (18/05/2020)