TLA – The Academies’ project

The current institutional background of the online publication platform Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae (TLA) is the long-term joint project “Strukturen und Transformationen des Wortschatzes der ägyptischen Sprache: Text- und Wissenskultur im Alten Ägypten” (“Structure and Transformation in the Vocabulary of the Egyptian Language: Texts and Knowledge in the Culture of Ancient Egypt”) (2013–2034) carried out conjointly by two academies, the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW) and the Saxon Academy of Sciences and Humanities (SAW). It is funded by the Academies’ Programme of the Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities. In two offices, located in Berlin (BBAW) and in Leipzig (SAW), two research teams of Egyptologists, digital humanists, and software developers take care of the maintenance, the technical and conceptual development, and the growth of the TLA and its input software Berlin Text System (BTS). In addition, a constantly changing group of international cooperators—individuals and institutions—support the project, contributing their own digital text data or even entering texts into the BTS by themselves on their own computers.

The project’s aim is to document and annotate the Ancient Egyptian language through its entire lifespan of more than 4,000 years from ca 3,000 BCE until ca 1,400 CE. Its two main research outcomes, the digital text corpus and the lemma lists, are published exclusively in electronic form, on the project’s publication platform, i.e., the TLA, and in the form of raw data.

The text corpus will contain ancient Egyptian texts of any type and genre from all periods of the written language in the hieroglyphic-hieratic, Demotic and – later – Coptic script on any type of material support. Every text word is ‘lemmatized,’ i.e., it is linked to one of the digital lemma lists: the hieroglyphic/hieratic lemma list, the Demotic lemma list, or – coming soon – the Coptic lemma list. By means of diachronic links, these three lists gradually transform into a single lemma network of the entirety of the Egyptian language. The goal is to facilitate and stimulate the digital study of texts and words across the boundaries of individual scripts (hieroglyphic, hieratic, Demotic, Coptic) and language phases and varieties (Old Egyptian, Middle Egyptian, Late Egyptian, Égyptien de tradition, Demotic, Coptic).

The TLA project invites researchers from the fields of Egyptology and Coptic Studies to share their textual raw data from their own text editions with the project. Collaboration helps to increase the quantitative data basis and thereby supports the project’s goals.