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All matters related to the provenance of a document are encoded in the Manuscript Description (msDesc) portion of the TEI header. In particular, they are placed within the history subsection (see further Dates and locations of modern observations).

Relevant element documentation (TEI):

Standard EpiDoc files include all relevant spatial, temporal, and circumstantial information about the initial discovery of a text-bearing object in a provenance tag with a type attribute bearing the value "found". Generally, there will only be one such element, unless separate fragments of the document were found in different locations. Recommended, optional values for subtype are available if there is a need to make computationally actionable distinctions between different circumstances of finding (see list in Dates and locations of modern observations).

The information within each provenance element can take the form of one or more paragraphs of prose, or of a list (with appropriate TEI tags used as necessary). Sometimes circumstances and editorial approach will dictate that the contents of provenance element be largely prose; other times a more data-oriented encoding approach may be indicated. In either case, best practice is to tag place names, personal names and other information worthy of indexing, linking or querying appropriately (e.g., with persName, placeName, etc.).


Here is an example adapted from a milestone published in The Inscriptions of Roman Tripolitania:

<provenance type="found">  <placeName key="db648">Coast Road: Oea-Lepcis Magna</placeName>:   <rs type="monuListkey="db669">Gasr Garabulli</rs>: in the Concessione Gherardi, 1 km. West of   the village. </provenance>

And another adapted from an ostracon published in

<provenance type="found">  Roman dump at <placeName ref="">Berenike</placeName>. </provenance>

And a third from the Corpus of the Inscriptions of Cāmpa project, demonstrating the use of standard TEI date attributes to indicate the timing of the discovery:

<provenance type="foundnotAfter="1999">  <ab>It seems that this piece was part of the private collection of Mr. Vũ Kim Lộc in Hồ Chí   Minh City at least until 1999, when Anne-Valérie Schweyer published a study of other objects   in the same collection (<ref target="C0205.xml">C. 205</ref>,   <ref target="C0206.xml">C. 206</ref><ref target="C0207.xml">C. 207</ref>) although without   mentioning the present item and <ref target="C0209.xml">C. 209</ref>.</ab> </provenance>

Linking place of origin to place of finding

It is often desirable, when objects are thought to have been found in situ, to indicate the relationship between place of finding and place of origin. Guidance and examples are provided in the section on Original location of the text-bearing object.

Responsibility for this section

  1. Tom Elliott, author
  2. Joyce Reynolds, author
  3. Arlo Griffiths, author
  4. Gabriel Bodard, author
  5. James Cowey, author
  6. Scott Vanderbilt, author

EpiDoc version: 9.5

Date: 2023-04-26