Background

The first phase of the project involved 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. For a provisional online presence of the database see below.

The data 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, the database contains a collection of ca. 400 exile cases, 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. The current dataset comprises more than 1,000 individuals.

The database allows 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 include tables, graphs, charts and geographical mapping. First examples of how these look like can be found here.

The search and visualisation techniques available through our database are not restricted to the specific research themes of the project. Focus group work, in particular through our project workshops, have allowed us to gain a wide view of research questions around late antique exile and ensured 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

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 covers a cleric’s prosopographical records and the network of his or her social relationships during exile as well as during the conflict that immediately caused the sentence of exile, and any direct repercussions. While it includes individuals that were threatened with exile but never left their place of origin, and those who escaped arrest, it does not consider those instances in which a cleric left his or her home voluntarily.

In addition to the prosopographical record, the database includes any pertinent location, including both ancient and modern names and the coordinates. It is 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 contains 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 entry forms look like to the editor here:

 

screenshot_database1screenshot_database2

 

User Interface

A provisional user interface of the database can be accessed here. Please note that this is still a work in progress and that the public-facing side of the database will also move to its own domain soon.

Database Categories

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