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Translating the Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum

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Lucy Shipley

on 3 October 2016

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Transcript of Translating the Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum

Translating the Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum
Lucy Shipley

Institute of Classical Studies 9/2/16

Pots, Past, Present and Future:
Two themes:

"A translation comes after the original and... it characterises the stage of their survival..."

(Derrida 1985: 178)
Object biography

Gosden and Marshall (1999)

Joy (2009)
One resource
100 years

100,000 pots

The Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum
"The translator must surrender to the text... Translation is the most intimate act of reading..."

(Spivak 1993: 183).
Burstrom (2014):
Object biography needs more emphasis on
Biography as the first act of submission to a text...
Translation is not just between languages
(1992, 1998)
Translation #1:
The historical images of the CVA
Translation #2
From analogue to digital
Perry 2015
Kansa 2016
Theorising the Digital
Spivak's submission to text (and images) provides a theoretical framework for digital translation
Three phases to this talk:
- the past (history of the CVA)
- the present (user survey)
- the future (starting a conversation)
Edmond Pottier
1855 - 1934
Pottier as archaeologist
Pottier's political context
Pottier as curator
A rebellion against...
The result?
"On n’a pas éliminé les vases sans décor, parce que la question des formes est un élément scientifique dont on ne peut méconnaitre l’importance et dont nos successeurs devront se préoccuper de plus en plus."

(Pottier 1922: III)

"On peut appliquer ainsi à la peinture antique des procédés d’investigation qui, de nos jours, dans le domaine de la peinture moderne, ont renouvelé entièrement l’histoire des écoles flamandes et italiennes."

The first CVA volume
Life, Death, and Peer Review Intervene
Image: Beazley Archive

Le cœur du Corpus doit
rester la céramique grecque.”

And no more ribbons...
By 2004
“Most archaeologists are unaware that there is any pottery in the CVA that is not Greek or Etruscan.”

Kurtz (2004: para 61)
Digital Translation #1
2000- Digitisation project

8000 possible search terms

5000 pottery searches per day
The Internet is changing:
Web 2.0

User Interactivity

A new translation?
A survey, naturally...
How to find out?
Do CVA users actually want change though?
Analogue or Digital?
40 respondents used BOTH

12 respondents used DIGITAL


preferred DIGITAL
“Higher quality images” (Respondent #20).

“Better implementation of zooming on images.”
(Respondent #14).

“An image service for non-commercial use” (Respondent #34).

What do they want?
What do they think?
What do they do?
Better images
More Open Access
Better search options
Publications list
3D imagery
More contextual information
Translation and Biography: The Future
Derrida (1967): translation as relinquishing materiality.

BUT the digital CVA must retain its own biography to be authentic
Well, a conversation about the future...
What would I do?
Go back to object biography
XRF data
Vessel form, fabric and measurements
And of course....
image: wikimedia
image: wikimedia
image: wikimedia
image: wikimedia
Lipid Analysis
image: author
Repairs and breaks
Image: Bilde and Handberg (2012)
Iconography in Context
Image (c) Trustees of the British Museum
Death and Afterlife
(maybe excavation context?)
image: wikimedia
Collections History
image: wikimedia
image: wikimedia
And finally
Research bibliography
High quality images
image (C) Trustees of the British Museum
Web 2.0 presents a challenge and an opportunity for the CVA
Between translation and biography we can respect the past, adapt to the present and shape the future.
Thank you
References cited:

Bilde, P. and Handberg, S. 2012. Ancient repairs on pottery from Olbia Pontica.
American Journal of Archaeology
116: 461-481.

Burstrom, 2014. Things in the eye of the beholder: a humanistic perspective on archaeological object biographies.
Norwegian Archaeological Review
47: 65-82.

Derrida, J. 1967.
Of Grammatology.
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Derrida, J. 1985. Les tours de Babel. In G. Joseph (ed.)
Difference in Translatio
n. London: Cornwell University Press, 165-208.

Gosden, C. and Marshall, Y. 2001. The cultural biography of objects.
World Archaeology
31: 169-178.

Joy, J. 2009. Reinvigorating object biography: reproducing the drama of object lives. World Archaeology 41: 540-556.

Kansa, E. 2016 (in prep)
Click here to save archaeology.
Working draft available at https://ekansa-pubs.github.io/click-here-to-save-archaeology/

Kurtz, D. 2004. A corpus of ancient vases. Hommage a Edmond Pottier.
Revue archeologique
38: 259-286.

Moser, S. 1998.
Ancestral images:: the iconography of human origins
. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Perry, S., Shipley, L. and J. Osborne. 2014. Digital media, power and (in)equality in archaeology and heritage.
Internet Archaeology

Pottier, E. 1922.
Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum, France Louvre fac. 1.
Paris: Union Academique Internationale.

Richardson, L. 2014. Understanding archaeological authority in a digital age.
Internet Archaeology

Spivak, G. 1993. The politics of translation. In Spivak, G.
Outside in the Teaching Machine
. London: Psychology Press, 179-200.
Full transcript