Aphrodisias, a city in south-west Turkey, flourished from the second century BC until the early seventh century AD. The site, although not prominent in the historical record, has been well known since the early nineteenth century for its abundant sculptures and inscriptions, cut in the excellent local marble. Since the early 1960s an international team of archaeologists and epigraphers has worked on the excavations which are directed by New York University (see excavation website). Around 2 000 inscriptions are now known from the site, full of information both about the life of the city and that of the Roman Empire. The sheer volume of this material, and the wealth of documentation, almost defy publication in a conventional format. For this reason, the excavators and the epigraphers have been investigating the possibility of publishing the inscribed texts on the World Wide Web, in order both to exploit the full range of archaeological information, and to make the material widely available.
Over the last decades, scholars working on inscriptions have been giving increasing attention to the possibilities of electronic publication. There have been a variety of initiatives; but the increased use of the internet now underlines the importance of compatibility in technological approaches, since it is now imaginable that scholars may be able to access diverse bodies of material from their desks. The Epidoc initiative started by Tom Elliott of the University of Chapel Hill in North Carolina, is an attempt to develop agreed XML markup for epigraphic texts.
The rich material from Aphrodisias offers a body of varied material with which to test out the Epidoc guidelines. In 2004 the team completed work on a pilot project, the EpiDoc Aphrodisias Pilot project, publishing 250 texts from the site. That project was made possible by the support of the Leverhulme Trust and the British Academy. For the new publication see ALA. In November 2003 the team was awarded a Resource Enhancement Grant by the Arts and Humanities Research Board, to publish the remainder of the material from the site, and, in so doing, to establish technological standards for such publication, and facilitate similar work by other scholars. The purpose of this site is to provide information about the new project, which began on 1 February 2004.