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Platform: Digital Classics


  • Dr Tazuko van Berkel (UL)
  • Dr Saskia Peels (UG)


Since the founding of OIKOS, the disclosing of primary sources, both textual and material, by means of critical editions, publications of sources, commentaries and other aids, has constituted one of the main program line of research. The research landscape has changed since then: nowadays these core activities of classical philology, ancient history and archaeology increasingly take place in and through digital media—media that create new possibilities in storing, organizing, generating and presenting data, but that also raise questions about the nature and status of data, the ways in which the medium dictates the message, the ways in which it shapes or limits the types of questions we can formulate or the kinds of answers we can expect, about the differences between data, information and knowledge.

Digital Classical Studies are part and parcel in the field of Classical Studies and every researcher will increasingly encounter digital tools and publications, work with them or develop them. It is therefore advisable for a national research school of Classical Studies to integrate Digital Classical Studies in its research programs and educational curriculum. At the same time, by 2019, Digital Classical Studies are hardly “avant garde”, nor do they represent a holy grail or a phenomenon that one can be “for” or “against”. It should not be seen as dictating an independent research agenda to be the object of a research group, but rather as an integral part of OIKOS first program line to be made visible on different places in the different Research Groups of OIKOS, its curriculum and organizational structure. We propose such a systematic strengthening of a digital “red thread” in OIKOS first program line.


We aim to achieve the following:

  • to organize a platform for scholars of classical antiquity in a changing landscape of publication and research methods;
  • to aggregate experience and expertise on the field of digital classics;
  • to foster “media reflection” and a critical attitude towards developments in contexts of education and research (e.g. a critical reflection on the status of digital resources; on the differences between data, information and knowledge; on methodological implications; on publication politics);
  • to secure the position of digital classics in the OIKOS curriculum and train generations of prospective researchers in the use of existing resources as well as in “media reflection”.

As we firmly believe that the resources provided by Digital Classical Studies are tools (of presentation and research) and not goals in themselves, we work in an organizational format that differs from the OIKOS Research Groups. We aim to offer a horizontal network or platform that runs transversally through OIKOS and her research groups, also to benefit maximally from the opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration that Digital Classical Studies have to offer.

Activities and presence

  • education: systematic inclusion of Digital Classical Studies in the OIKOS curriculum, both
  • in the form of an overview of the variety of available tools, and discuss their implications for the discipline of Digital Classical Studies (“will Machine Learning bring back experimentation into the field of humanities and what will that mean for the type of research questions that we will be able (or inclined) to formulate?”); and
  • integrated with research topics such as “the Mediterranean world”, “commentary techniques”, “fragments”, to raise methodological questions (“what are the implications of digital editions for the way we conceptualize philosophical or literary “fragments”?);
  • offer a network that raises awareness of and promotes the interests of scholars in a changing landscape of publication politics: what are the regulations with regard to Open Access, how do we ensure that selection committees regard digital publications (e.g. entries in a digital database) as full-fledged academic publications, how can infrastructures of quality checks and peer reviews be guaranteed for large digital publications?
  • “best practice” meetings: where OIKOS members involved in the development of digital tools, editions and databases exchange experiences;
  • organization of lectures or small symposia with invited specialists in response to current developments in Digital Classical Studies, in collaboration with each of the Research Groups;
  • offer digitalpresence: a tab on the OIKOS website where references to running Dutch and Flemish projects in Digital Classical Studies can be found.

Division of labor with local DigHum institutes

By now many Dutch universities with Humanities departments accommodate a Center for Digital Humanities or an equivalent. Therefore, we believe that coursework in concrete skills and techniques (e.g. coding classes) are better left relegated to these local specialized institutions. The unique added value of an OIKOS platform will be that it offers a context where students, junior and senior researchers can meet learn about and discuss tools and developments as scholars of classical antiquity among classicists and reflect on the implications of digital media and data for our discipline.


As organizational format we envisage a platform in which the Educational Board, the ReMA/PhD-students and each of the Research Groups are represented by at least one member.

Last modified:01 February 2023 09.58 a.m.