Modern or last known locations


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 the general section on provenance).

Relevant element documentation (TEI):

When producing a scholarly edition of a pre-modern text, it is often essential to encode what is known about the modern history of observation and recording, as well as transactions involving the object. Ideally, this account begins with the discovery of the text-bearing object (findspot), details each substantive subsequent instance of reporting, and culminates in a report of the last-known or last-observed location. Such a history can provide important insight into the likely original location of the object. It places both published bibliography and unpublished archival materials (such as early travelers' notebooks) into a chronological sequence that is sometimes crucial to determining the origins of variant readings and supplements. The editor can use this history to signal her own moments of interaction with the text-bearing object and, in conjunction with inventory and repository information encoded elsewhere in the edition, can equip the reader with the ability to locate, verify, and build upon the present edition.

Just like the description of discovery and place of finding, TEI/EpiDoc uses a separate provenance element to record each subsequent instance of modern observation, including the final "last known location". Extended prose can be used, but it is best practice to markup the spatial and temporal components wherever possible in order to facilitate subsequent processing, search index creation, and the like.

EpiDoc recognizes the following values for the type attribute on provenance:

  • <provenance type="found"> is used to encode information about the first appearance, or key re-appearance, of the text-bearing object in modern times; see Findspot and find context
  • <provenance type="observed"> is used to encode information about subsequent modern observations
  • <provenance type="not-observed"> is used to encode information about a specific, unsuccessful attempt to locate an object in a presumed or previously recorded location
  • <provenance type="transferred"> is used to encode information about documentable modern relocations of the text-bearing object

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). NB: the old recommendation of <provenance type="autopsy"> as a special case of <provenance type="observed"> is now deprecated in favor of <provenance type="observed" subtype="autopsied">.

The following values are recommended for subtype when using <provenance type="transferred">.

  • "moved"
  • "sold"
  • "given"
  • "loaned"
  • "purchased"
  • "acquired"
  • "donated"

Here is an example adapted from the Inscriptions of Aphrodisias:

<history>    <origin>   <origDate evidence="reign titulature lettering"
December 250 - January 251</origDate>   <origPlace>Theatre of Aphrosidias: north parodos wall</origPlace>  </origin>    <provenance xml:id="copy-picenini"
The first known copy of the inscription was made by Picenini in 1705    (10102, 30v), whence Sherard (10101, 41). The stone was evidently reused in the late antique    construction of the city walls, having been moved from from its original location at the    theatre to its present location, enmured in the western portion of the south wall of the    city.</provenance>    <provenance xml:id="copy-wood"
Copied by Wood (14, f45v), but not published.</provenance>     <provenance xml:id="copy-raoul"
Copied by Raoul-Rochette.</provenance>     <provenance xml:id="copy-fellows"
Copied by Fellows.</provenance>     <provenance xml:id="copy-loew"
Copied by Loew.</provenance>     <provenance xml:id="copy-bailie"
Perhaps copied by Bailie.</provenance>     <provenance xml:id="copy-waddington"
Copied by Waddington.</provenance>     <provenance xml:id="record-gaudin"
Recorded by Gaudin (142).</provenance>     <provenance xml:id="record-mama"
Recorded by the MAMA Expedition.</provenance>     <provenance xml:id="record-nyu"
Recorded by the NYU Expedition.</provenance>     <provenance xml:id="autopsy-reynolds"
Text transcribed at the findspot by Reynolds.</provenance>    </history>

Here is another example, adapted from the Corpus of the Inscriptions of Campā:

<history>  <origin>   <origPlace type="location">    <placeName type="temple"
Chiên Đàn</placeName>   </origPlace>   <origDate>    <date datingMethod=""
early 11<hi rend="superscript">th</hi> century</date>    <note xml:space="preserve">We believe that this inscription is to be dated earlier than       previous scholars have assumed. See Cf. <bibl><ptr target="cic-bibl:ECIC-III"/>:       <biblScope>454 n. 36</biblScope></bibl>.</note>   </origDate>  </origin>   <provenance type="observed"
   <p xml:space="preserve">This boulder was found before 1892, when it was first mentioned       in the literature (<bibl><ptr target="cic-bibl:paris-1892"/>:       <biblScope>141</biblScope></bibl>), and said to have been observed at the <quote>towers       of <placeName>An-don</placeName></quote>. It was mentioned again in 1896       (<bibl><ptr target="cic-bibl:aymonier-1896a"/></bibl> and       <bibl><ptr target="cic-bibl:aymonier-1896b"/><biblScope>94</biblScope></bibl>) as       <quote>inscription of <placeName>Qua My</placeName>, at 60 km to the South slightly       eastward of Tourane</quote>, and tentatively assigned to the 11th century CE. The       inscription was inventoried as <ptr target="#inv-general"/> in       <bibl><ptr target="cic-bibl:coedes-1908"/><biblScope>44</biblScope></bibl>, in       association with the place name <placeName>Hoà-mi</placeName>; inscription and stone       were inventoried <bibl><ptr target="cic-bibl:parmentier-1909"/>:       <biblScope>278</biblScope></bibl>, correctly attributed to the Chiên Đàn site (here       spelt Chiên Đàng), and assigned to the late 11th century CE.</p> </provenance>   <provenance type="observedwhen="1900">  <p>Moved by C. Paris to his concession in Phong Lệ in 1900, and from there to the antiquities    park in Tourane in 1901.</p> </provenance>   <provenance type="observed"
 <p xml:space="preserve">Registered in the Tourane Museum in 1919, with inventory number       <ptr target="#inv-musee-parmentier"/> (<bibl><ptr target="cic-bibl:parmentier-1919"/>:       <biblScope>12</biblScope></bibl>), that was subsequently mentioned in the improved inventory       of inscriptions (<ptr target="cic-bibl:coedes-1923"/>).</p> </provenance>  <provenance type="observed"
  <p>We identified fragment A encased in a wall of the Đà Nẵng Museum in 2009. It has since then     been removed from the encasing and according to our latest information is now kept in     storage. We observed fragment B <foreign>in situ</foreign> on <date when="2009-09-20"/>.</p>  </provenance>    <provenance type="not-observed"
  <p xml:space="preserve">We were unable to find fragment C during any of our visits to Vietnam       since 2009.<note>From the earliest references, the sources speak of an inscription in three       fragments. <bibl><ptr target="cic-bibl:parmentier-1919"/></bibl> suggests that the original       rock was willfully split into three fragments <quote>at the hands of the coolies of       Paris</quote>; he mentions that the fragment held in the Museum had been <quote>detached       from the block and transported at the order of C. Paris to his concession of Phong-lệ       before 1900; brought to the Tourane Garden in 1901 and registered under the provisional       number n° 105</quote>. We think that these accusations of vandalism may not be fair,       because Camille Paris himself, in the first ever report of the inscription, clearly states       that the stone was already broken in three pieces when he found it. For reasons unknown to       us, this report is not cited in any of the publications of Parmentier and Cœdès, and could       thus come to be forgotten by subsequent generations of scholars.</note></p>  </provenance> </history>

Here is an example from the US Epigraphy Project showing a series of transfers of ownership and marking transaction details such as names and roles of responsible parties.

  <date evidence="#formulae #palaeography"
     first-early second century CE</date>
  <placeName ref="europe.italy.rome">Italy, Rome, Porta Salaria</placeName>
 <provenance type="found"

  <p>Reportedly found in <date when="1886">1886</date> in a graveyard outside the Porta Salaria between the Via Salaria and the Via Pinciana</p>
 <provenance type="transferred"

  <p>purchased in <placeName>Rome</placeName> by <persName role="purchaser">
    <name key="Clifford Moore">Clifford Moore</name>
   </persName> for the <orgName>Harvard Department of Classics</orgName>, <date notBefore="1905notAfter="1906">1905-1906</date>
 <provenance type="transferred"

  <p>internally transferred from the <orgName>Harvard Department of Classics</orgName> to the <orgName>Sackler Museum</orgName>, <date when="1977">1977</date>

Responsibility for this section

  1. Tom Elliott, author
  2. Gabriel Bodard, author
  3. Charlotte Roueché, author
  4. Arlo Griffiths, author
  5. James Cowey, author
  6. Scott Vanderbilt, author
  7. Scott DiGiulio, author
  8. Elli Mylonas, author

EpiDoc version: 9.4

Date: 2022-10-07