Dates and locations of modern observations

NB: Guidance for encoding information about the original and historical disposition of the text-bearing object is provided in the sections on Original location of the text-bearing object and Original date of text and/or object.

Relevant element documentation (TEI):

It is customary in producing an edition of a pre-modern manuscript, papyrus, inscription, or other text-bearing object to enumerate the occasions on which modern persons encountered and reported seminal information about the object, its condition and disposition, etc., together with associated bibliographic references where possible. The initial such observation is often the occasion of finding, sometimes in situ, sometimes in circumstances or reuse, sometimes already in the context of a modern collection. There follow other observations, culminating in the "last observed location" or "current location."

Following general TEI guidance, EpiDoc treats each such observation as a discrete event in space and time, and encodes each in a separate <provenance> element in the <history> section of the header. The type attribute is used with the following standard values to distinguish the major types of events:

  • <provenance type="found"> is used to encode information about the first appearance, or key re-appearance, of the text-bearing object in modern times
  • <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

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">. See further, below.

Some print editions, databases, and active projects are able to provide even more detail concerning the nature of provenance events (e.g., whether a transfer was a simple move within an institution's storage areas or the transport of the object to another institution entirely). When it is desireable to encode such fine distinctions in a machine-actionable manner (e.g., for the creation of indices or for faceted search), the subtype attribute can be employed. The following standard values for subtype are suggested:

standard values for subtype on <provenance type="found">
  • "discovered"
  • "rediscovered"
  • "first-seen"
  • "first-recorded"
standard values for subtype on <provenance type="observed">
  • "seen"
  • "recorded"
  • "identified"
  • "photographed"
  • "autopsied": an event during which the editor (i.e., the person creating the present edition) personally examined the object
  • "squeeze-taken"
  • "rubbing-taken"
  • "ink-transfer-taken"
  • "reported"
  • "built-into"
  • "reappeared"
standard values for subtype on <provenance type="not-observed">
  • "lost"
  • "stolen"
  • "destroyed"
  • "drawn"
  • "reported-lost"
  • "reported-stolen"
  • "reported-destroyed"
standard values for subtype on <provenance type="transferred">
  • "moved"
  • "sold"
  • "given"
  • "loaned"

A general example is provided in the main section on Provence of the text-bearing object. Specific guidance for each type of provenance event is provided in its own section as follows:

Responsibility for this section

  1. Gabriel Bodard, author
  2. Simona Stoyanova, author
  3. Tom Elliott, author
  4. James Cowey, author
  5. Scott Vanderbilt, author

EpiDoc version: 8.20

Date: 2014-12-04