We are delighted to announce the formal signing on 17 January 2022 of a convention between the Faculty of Classics and the Assessorato regionale dei Beni Culturali e dell’Identità siciliana. The convention is intended to support the study, publication and communication of the archaeological heritage of the island, and specifically the island’s rich epigraphic culture, through the work of the Crossreads and I.Sicily projects, directed by Professor Jonathan Prag. The convention has been made possible by the Assessore dei Beni culturali, Alberto Samonà, and has been signed by the Director General of the Dipartimento dei Beni Culturali, Franco Fazio, with the support of the archaeologist Alessandra Merra (Senior Scientific Advisor), and the Director for Institutional Relations, Maddalena De Luca.
I.Sicily is a pioneering digital corpus of the inscriptions of ancient Sicily, which has been developed over a number of years with the active support of many institutions and individuals in Sicily. The foundations for the new convention were laid in collaborations that go back over a decade, beginning with the Museo Archeologico Regionale Paolo Orsi, in Siracusa: with the support of a series of previous directors (Concetta Ciurcina, Beatrice Basile, Gioconda Lamagna, Maria Musumeci) and the funzionari of the museum (especially dott.ssa Angela Maria Manenti), the project has been working to catalogue the 1,000+ inscriptions of the museum's collection. This work expanded to include the Christian epigraphy of Siracusa, in collaboration with the former Assessore dei Beni culturali, the late Maria Rita Sgarlata, who was directing a project to publish the Christian inscriptions of Siracusa. Comparable collaborations had also been developed with other museums such as the Museo Civico di Catania (dir. Valentina Noto) and the Museo archeologico regionale Pietro Griffo, in Agrigento (under the directorship of Gioconda Lamagna). The previous Assessore dei beni culturali, the late Sebastiano Tusa, likewise offered considerable support to the project.
Crossreads is a major new European Research Council (ERC) funded project to develop innovative study of the written material culture of ancient Sicily, including petrographic, palaeographic, and linguistic analysis. The convention will enable these projects to realise their full potential, facilitating the detailed study of the archaeological material and its public dissemination. More than this, however, it is the joint ambition of both parties to explore ways to make the material and the results of its study accessible to as wide a public as possible. Plans to jointly develop training workshops for Sicilian students in conjunction with the museums, soprintendenze and archaeological parks in Sicily, as well as for a future exhibition on the epigraphic culture of Sicily are already underway. Moreover, we aim to exploit the digital resources and platforms of both projects to develop innovative new ways to make the island’s rich past more accessible and engaging for local, national and international audiences.