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Re: More on pics & texts (was Qumran ostracon KhQ1)

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  • Greg Doudna
    Speaking from experience, line 8 of the ostracon (KhQ1) itself is so faint it is virtually invisible to the naked eye. Only photographs enable readings to be
    Message 1 of 4 , Jan 13 11:04 AM
      Speaking from experience, line 8 of the ostracon (KhQ1)
      itself is so faint it is virtually invisible to the naked
      eye. Only photographs enable readings to be done
      on that line. Have you personally seen Yardeni's
      1997 IEJ 1997 (47: 233-237) study and accompanying
      photograph? After looking at her explanation and
      photograph, do you personally have any
      real question that Yardeni got that reading right?

      How would you recommend scholars report their
      readings in cases in which they have access to
      (a) an illegible original text, and (b) a
      photograph, such as infrared, that brings out
      letter readings, and (c) their reported reading
      is based on the information from the photograph?

      What is the difference between the case above
      and other scholars undertaking study and analysis
      and publishing on the basis of (b) and (c) alone
      above? How would their respective wordings
      be different, and would you veto publication of
      one versus the other, if you were in control
      of their peer review? Would you also veto articles
      for publication presenting scholarly readings from
      photographs of a text, if the original was now
      missing or destroyed?

      There are a large number of Qumran fragments
      which are illegible to the naked eye, but which
      have become readable by e.g. infrared photographs.
      It is not the case that these photographs are an
      invalid basis for making secure identifications of letters
      and readings, or that all of the scholarly publications
      of Qumran texts on the basis of e.g. the Brill
      microfiche edition negatives of the DSS, are
      invalid, or should have been rejected by peer
      review.

      Yardeni's reading of line 8 of KhQ1, with the possible
      exception of the faint partially-surviving part of the
      last letter of the line (which does not affect the
      substance of her line's reading), is unlikely to be
      altered by any future photograph no matter how
      much clearer, since the existing information in
      existing photographs is sufficient to know Yardeni's
      readings of the complete letters in that line are
      correct. This is supported
      not only by the visible palaeography from existing
      photographs, but also by compelling argument
      from context/expected wording (n.b. by contrast,
      there is no argument from context in support of or
      calling for Cross/Eshel's grammatically-, morphologically-,
      and palaeographically- unusual line 8 reading),
      as well as an understandable (in retrospect)
      explanation for the Cross/Eshel earlier mistaken reading.
      Other than Cross and Eshel who are sticking with their
      original transcription "come hell or high water", no
      one competent--no one--is known today to dispute
      Yardeni's reading who has studied it personally. In
      this particular case, the existing photographs
      published by Cross/Eshel, Yardeni, etc. do
      alone enable the security of Yardeni's reading, no
      differently than in the hundreds of other lines of
      Dead Sea texts Yardeni has published with
      supporting photographs.

      Greg Doudna
      Bellingham, Washington
    • Ariel L. Szczupak
      At 09:04 PM 1/13/2008, Greg Doudna wrote: [...] ... I planned a detailed answer, but ended up spending all the time I had hunting down a web example and the
      Message 2 of 4 , Jan 14 12:15 PM
        At 09:04 PM 1/13/2008, Greg Doudna wrote:
        [...]

        >How would you recommend scholars report their readings in cases [...]

        I planned a detailed answer, but ended up spending all the time I had
        hunting down a web example and the detailed reply will have to wait
        (probably for the weekend).

        But I did find what I was looking for [originally it was accessible
        from the CDLI main page, but now there's no path from the home page,
        at least none I could find].

        It's a slide show illustrating in great detail (147 slides) how a
        vector-graphic facsimile is prepared for a proto-cuneiform tablet.
        It's from a few years ago but it's still pretty much state of the art.

        http://cdli.ucla.edu/methods/vector_graphics/001.html

        Most of the work is done with a digital picture, but notice that
        starting with slide 98 ...

        http://cdli.ucla.edu/methods/vector_graphics/098.html

        ... the facsimile, which up to this point is made from the picture,
        is corrected using the observations of the object itself.

        I'm giving this example because even though the CDLI provides both
        the high-res picture and the facsimile, when working with their
        database I came across several cases in which the picture and the
        facsimile didn't match 100% (the picture had more, or less, possible
        markings than the facsimile), and several cases in which, as good as
        the pictures are, there were issues of lighting and I missed a second
        (at least) picture with a different light source. And in these cases
        I couldn't be certain of the transliteration, though I had to give
        precedence to the CDLI's transliteration because it was made by
        people who could observe the object directly.



        Ariel.

        [100% bona fide dilettante ... delecto ergo sum!]

        ---
        Ariel L. Szczupak
        AMIS-JLM (Ricercar Ltd.)
        POB 4707, Jerusalem, Israel 91406
        Phone: +972-2-5619660 Fax: +972-2-5634203
        ane.als@...
      • Greg Doudna
        To Ariel Szczupak: While the link you give is interesting, I am having difficulty knowing what your point is. Earlier I understood you to say that scholarly
        Message 3 of 4 , Jan 14 2:25 PM
          To Ariel Szczupak: While the link you give is interesting,
          I am having difficulty knowing what your point is.
          Earlier I understood you to say that scholarly
          transcriptions of letters of ancient texts on the basis of photographs should not be permitted to be published
          in peer-reviewed journals. Here, you give a link to a
          computer program that enables
          one to draw over a photograph, then remove the
          underlying photograph, and then print, to produce the
          computer equivalent of a hand drawing distinct
          from the photograph. Nice tool, I agree,
          but what does this have to do with forbidding
          publication in peer-reviewed journals of
          scholarly transcriptions on the basis of photographs?
          The best line drawing, whether drawn freehand or
          with the assistance of the computer
          program you give, still in the end produces some
          scholar's interpretation of a photograph, and the
          photograph remains more primary
          as evidence than the line drawing. I also do not
          see how use of this computer program to generate
          a line drawing, if they had used it, would have
          changed either Cross/Eshel's or Yardeni's transcriptions
          of KhQ1. I could try to guess at what reasoning or
          point you are trying to make but will just say that
          though I tried to follow, you lost me ...

          Greg Doudna
          Bellingham, Washington


          _________________________________________________________________
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        • Ariel L. Szczupak
          ... The point of the example was that as good as the CDLI photographs are, there are cases in which what can be seen in the photograph is significantly
          Message 4 of 4 , Jan 14 11:59 PM
            At 12:25 AM 1/15/2008, Greg Doudna wrote:

            >
            >To Ariel Szczupak: While the link you give is interesting, I am
            >having difficulty knowing what your point is.

            The point of the example was that as good as the CDLI photographs
            are, there are cases in which what can be seen in the photograph is
            significantly different (affects the symbol identification) from the
            facsimile drawing. What I see in the picture and what the person who
            made the facsimile saw on the object are different. There's an
            instinctive feeling of "what I see can't be wrong" that favors the
            photograph, but the reality of it is that in most cases it's the
            facsimile prepared from direct observations that is correct. ["Most
            cases" because direct observation is no guarantee against human error.]

            >Earlier I understood you to say that scholarly transcriptions of
            >letters of ancient texts on the basis of photographs should not be
            >permitted to be published in peer-reviewed journals.

            Not exactly. There's nothing wrong with publishing suggested
            different transcriptions. But when the transcription is given the
            authority of a facsimile, i.e. something that you in Washington
            should trust as the basis for your research on the semantics without
            having to take a plane to Jerusalem, photographs are not enough.

            And your phrasing, "transcription of letters", may indicate some
            mixing between the different levels of abstractions that are
            involved. A facsimile separates "dead matter" from "human
            communication" by representing the forms and shapes that constitute
            the "human communication" part of that object (which can be also
            pictorial or geometrical shapes, or symbols in an undeciphered
            script). The facsimile of a text is not a transcription of letters,
            but of forms and shapes. Identifying these forms as letters in a
            specific script is a separate level of processing, a higher level of
            abstraction en route for "pulling out" the semantic contents, the
            meaning of the inscriptions, from the physical object. The facsimile
            in a primary publication is an authoritative graphic description of
            this first level of abstraction, "these be man made shapes and
            forms", and a primary publication doesn't necessarily have to
            interpret the object further (as is the case with primary
            publications of texts in an undeciphered script).

            >Here, you give a link to a computer program that enables one to draw
            >over a photograph, then remove the underlying photograph, and then
            >print, to produce the computer equivalent of a hand drawing distinct
            >from the photograph. Nice tool, I agree, but what does this have to
            >do with forbidding publication in peer-reviewed journals of
            >scholarly transcriptions on the basis of photographs?

            This is not a one semester project of a post grad student. It is the
            tool used by the CDLI project as part of their technology-aware
            procedures in their methodological way of publishing authoritative
            facsimiles (for thousands of tablets).

            And as impressive as the tool may be (albeit with a simple and not
            very damaged tablet), they subject its results to corrections made by
            observing the objects themselves. [The CDLI site used to have also
            pictures of the lab, illustrating how the object and the computer
            were used in tandem, but I can't locate them now].

            >The best line drawing, whether drawn freehand or with the assistance
            >of the computer program you give, still in the end produces some
            >scholar's interpretation of a photograph,

            NO. The "end" is an authoritative facsimile based on direct
            observation (re slides starting with 98), whose preparation was
            assisted by the software. In that their methodology is correct.

            >and the photograph remains more primary as evidence than the line drawing.

            NO. In the CDLI procedure the line drawing is generated from the
            object, not the photograph, and that gives it the methodological
            validity to have the authority of a facsimile. The photograph is used
            to make the process simpler and quicker, but the data represented by
            the facsimile comes directly from the object via human observation,
            not from the picture. In their procedure the photograph has no
            evidentiary role, even though it has a very important practical role.

            It makes sense. No one says that a photograph represents something
            completely different from what is on the object. Most of what's in
            the photograph is a correct representation of the object, and there
            no reason not to use this "most" to make the preparation of the
            facsimile easier. But how much is this "most" in each specific case,
            is something that requires human visual processing of the object.

            [I will return to the "what do you suggest" part of your previous
            message later this week. It requires more that a simple reactive reply]



            Ariel.

            [100% bona fide dilettante ... delecto ergo sum!]

            ---
            Ariel L. Szczupak
            AMIS-JLM (Ricercar Ltd.)
            POB 4707, Jerusalem, Israel 91406
            Phone: +972-2-5619660 Fax: +972-2-5634203
            ane.als@...
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