Soon after his appointment as Professor at IAS, Benjamin D. Meritt took the first steps to build a repository of squeezes, “which will be second only to that in Berlin,” he wrote on September 8, 1935. Squeezes are prepared in the field or in museums using paper that is wetted, placed on an inscribed surface, beaten with a stiff brush to capture each incision and eliminate air bubbles, and left to dry before being removed for examination. Meritt’s ambition to build the IAS Collection resulted in squeezes made of inscriptions at the Epigraphical Museum in Athens, on the Acropolis, and at Eleusis (a large community with a famous sanctuary); he also contacted several museums that had large holdings of Greek inscriptions to contribute to the collection, including the Ashmolean Museum, the British Museum, the Louvre Museum, and the Archaeological Museum at Izmir. Over time, more and more squeezes were donated by scholars to IAS—including squeezes of inscriptions from the Athenian Agora—resulting in a very large and valuable Collection. The proposed project will digitize ca. 35,000 squeezes of Athenian inscriptions from the IAS Collection, which cover every aspect of political, social, economic, religious, legal, and cultural life in Athens from ca. 400 BCE to ca. 200 CE. They represent a large variety of texts, including treaties, laws, decrees, honorific inscriptions, accounts of building projects, tribute lists of the Athenian Empire, grave inscriptions, literary texts (epigrams), lists of officials, dedications, inventories, and artists’ signatures.
This two-year project aims to digitize the Athenian inscriptions from the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) Squeeze Collection, the world’s second largest collection of ca. 70,000 squeezes of Greek and Latin inscriptions. Squeezes of stone inscriptions are accurate, three-dimensional, mirror image impressions of inscriptions. Scholars worldwide use them continually to produce new readings and a more accurate chronology of texts, and to train students. The IAS Collection, which currently can only be consulted on campus, is particularly rich in Athenian inscriptions and contains squeezes of inscriptions that have been destroyed or lost. The digitization of the Athenian squeezes will preserve these delicate prized resources; connect the images of the squeezes with their published inscription texts through metadata creation; make them accessible online for free and unlimited use by researchers, epigraphy teachers, and students across the globe; and enhance the study of primary sources for every aspect of Classical culture.
Institute for Advanced Study
400 - 200
The inscriptions captured by the nominated IAS Squeeze Collection are representative of Athens, Greece, the city that dominated ancient Greek political and cultural history for centuries. Athens has produced the largest number of inscriptions in the Greek world.