Provenance of the text-bearing object

2021-11-18

EpiDoc provides for both detail and flexibility in describing what is known or recorded about the origin and subsequent history of a text-bearing object. As described in the History Section of the TEI Guidelines, this information is collected in a history element that is part of the msDesc in the teiHeader. Within history, one first encodes an origin element, which is used to lay out what is known about the date(s) and location(s) associated with the original (historic) creation and publication of the object (the origDate and origPlace elements are provided for each of these purposes). After the origin element, the editor may create one or more provenance elements, each of which describes a discrete event in the history of the object, capturing whatever is known and relevant in the way of temporal and spatial information. Examples of provenance events include: (modern) place and date of finding or subsequent observation and recording.

Here is an example adapted from the Inscriptions of Aphrodisias project:

<history>
 <origin>
  <origDate>Second to third centuries C.E.</origDate>
  <origPlace>
   <placeName type="ancient">Aphrodisias</placeName>: probably in the grounds of the
     Temple of Aphrodite.</origPlace>
 </origin>
 <provenance type="foundwhen="1968">
  <p>Re-used in the City Walls of <placeName type="ancient">Aphrodisias</placeName>.</p>
 </provenance>
 <provenance type="observedwhen="2012">
  <p>Aphrodisias Museum.</p>
 </provenance>
</history>

If detailed historical, dating and provenance information is not known (e.g. for an object or manuscript long held in a repository or private collection), a general description of the history of the object may be given in one or more p element (as shown below) rather than using the structured elements described above.

<history>
 <p>The stone may have been in the private collection of Pr Cresson, who invited Louis Robert to read and
   translate the inscription. Robert recorded no information on its provenance and its later whereabouts
   are unknown. It has never emerged on the antiquities market.</p>
</history>

More detailed discussion and specific examples (e.g., for dealing with a range of possible places of origin or fragmentary objects whose component parts have been separated in modern times) see the following sections of the guidelines:

Note that inventory numbers, repository information and related indicia are treated in a separate part of msDesc (a sibling element of history called msIdentifier). The encoding of this information is described in the Inventory numbers and repositories section.

Responsibility for this section

  1. Simona Stoyanova, author
  2. Gabriel Bodard, author
  3. Tom Elliott, author

EpiDoc version: 9.3

Date: 2021-11-18