Background

The first phase of the project will involve developing a prosopographical database of late antique banished clerics which records information about individuals, their geographical environments and social networks identified in our primary source materials. This database – designed and created in collaboration with colleagues at HRI Digital – will be made freely accessible on an interactive website, allowing project staff and a wider community of users to explore the relationships clerical banishment and the development of the Christian church in late antiquity.

The data will be derived from evidence contained in four major late antique source types: legal (laws, council acts), narrative (historical works, hagiography), doctrinal (letters, treatises), documentary (papyri and inscriptions). Overall, a collection of ca. 400 exile cases is envisaged, which, depending on the information provided by the sources, can generate between one and 200 database records relating to each individual exile, including information on places, people, objects, theological positions and cults. We anticipate a final dataset comprising approximately 1,000 individuals.

The database will allow the project staff and other uses to interrogate the entire range of data and visualise the results in ways which reveal temporal patterns and topographical distributions of social relationships that are dispersed and hidden within the scattered source material and hence not evident when consulting the documents individually. Visualisation techniques will include tables, graphs, charts and geographical mapping. First examples of how these will look like can be found here.

The search and visualisation techniques available through our database will not be restricted to the specific research themes of the project. Focus group work, in particular through our project workshops, will allow us to gain a wide view of research questions around late antique exile and ensure that the recorded data and user interface will be of use to a much wider range of research interests than those represented within the project.

 

Realisation

As it stands at present, the database roughly comprises three prosopographical main areas: the Exile Cases themselves, the Contacts of an Exiled Cleric and the Relationships between Exile Contacts. All three areas are linked to Persons/Groups. Each entry constitutes a defined entity that can in multiple ways be attributed to a given case or relationship. For example, Eusebius of Vercelli was in contact with the exiled Lucifer of Cagliari and himself exiled too. This allows to view at once the multiple networks that existed between exiled clerics and those who were in contact with them.

The database will cover the prosopographical record during exile as well as during the conflict that immediately caused the sentence of exile, and any direct repercussions. While it will include individuals that were threatened with exile but never left their place of origin, and those who escaped arrest, it will not consider those instances in which a cleric left his home voluntarily.

In addition to the prosopographical record, the database will include any pertinent location, including both ancient and modern names and the coordinates. It will be linked to standard works, such as the Prosopographie Chrétienne du Bas-Empire, the Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire and the geographical online resource Pleiades.

The database will contain a significant number of information in relation to every exile case and exile contact, as outlined above. You can view examples of how the database forms look like to the editor here:

 

screenshot_database1screenshot_database2

 

Database Categories

For a complete list of database categories, please see here.