cdli tablet is an iPad and Android app that combines text and images of cuneiform inscriptions, of related archaeological artifacts, and of the equipment and techniques employed by specialists to capture, digitally preserve and disseminate the cultural heritage of the ancient Near East. Sponsored by the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative (CDLI) based at UCLA's Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, the app, inspired by the elegantly simple “guardian eyewitness,” (sadly disbanded in 2014 and merged in the general Guardian app), was programmed by UCLA Computer Science graduate students associated with CDLI. cdli tablet was originally created in 2013 as an iPad app by then UCLA CS graduate student Sai Deep Tetali, working together with Assyriology Professor Robert K. Englund. In 2017, Prashant Rajput, UCLA CS graduate student, and Altaf Shaikh, mobile developer, built an improved version for tablets and smartphones running on Android. If you do not have access to an iPad or Android mobile device, you can still scroll through the entries here on your workstation.
The app gives specialists in the field of cuneiform studies, Near Eastern archaeology and art history the opportunity to present facets of the writing culture of ancient Mesopotamia to a broad community of experts and informal learners. Short descriptions of the historical relevance of selected text and text-related artifacts together with images that can, but need not be taken from CDLI’s growing open access file archives, are prepared and posted to app pages. Ordered by calendar date in groups of from several to thirty day-pages, the resulting ‘themes’ give a running account of these experts’ ideas; new entries are uploaded each midnight, NYC time. The app is conceived as a vehicle for the introduction, to learning communities of all ages and levels of interest, of a variety of chosen topics in cuneiform studies and in the digital preservation and world-wide dissemination of the shared cultural heritage of ancient Mesopotamia. The specialists who are contributing to the content of this app will include experts in all phases of the 3000-year history of the use of cuneiform, as well as the curatorial staff of major museums and university collections in North America, Europe and the Middle East—but we solicit the participation of all who share our interest in the cuneiform record.
We have striven to keep cdli tablet, and particularly the procedures to add to its content, very simple. If you would like to contribute to the app pages, please send your idea to us at <firstname.lastname@example.org>. You can put together entry pages easily enough by downloading a set of model files and preparing your images and text in the same fashion. Follow the simple rules below, and send your files to us to be put in line for the next available dates in our calendar. Please remember that if not CDLI files, we will need a statement to the effect that the images you submit are your property, or are otherwise not encumbered with the copyright of third parties.
1) Your images must be RGB jpg files, 2048x1536 pixels; it is best to load directly into the model file available in the set that is downloadable in the previous paragraph, flatten and save in Photoshop or a comparable image editor. Unless your image covers the entire surface of this file, leave a band about 100 pixels high free at the top to accommodate the menu bar in the app, and about the same below the image (this is part of the 2048x1536 pixel file, not added to it). This frame should have the same color as the background of your image (we are generally using a black background to accommodate CDLI’s archival files, but it is of course your choice).
2) For your text files, use a common text editor like BBEdit to ensure that no format codes are being written into your text. Files should be saved as simple text, in BBEdit and comparable text editors with Unix line breaks and Unicode UTF-8 character sets. As you will see in the model files and in the app itself, text is html-enabled, but there is no need to use <br> for line breaks. Name all files according to your chosen theme, each file with the same theme and numbered 1ff.
3) Theme: The full title is displayed as ‘Theme: title’ on the iPad and may be up to approximately 30 characters. Note that themes are separated in the thumbnail page of app using different colored frames.
4) Title: numbered 1ff.
5) Short Description is required and should be from 10-50 words (UTF-8 and html supported). Consult the examples in the model files.
6) Longer Description is required and should be from 100-400 words (UTF-8 and html supported). Consult the examples in the model files. The last line is for credits (your initials), and the hyperlink for the CDLI entry, if this is in our files, will bring up your iPad browser with this page.
Expert cdli tablet editors should go to here and log in to access all entries prepared for the app, to edit their own entries, and to enter new files. Instructions and model files available there will assist you in ensuring that your image and text uploads are compatible with the app, and that they are assigned their correct dates of appearance.
Any questions or comments can be posted to <email@example.com>.
Keywords: Humanities, cultural heritage, museum, Near Eastern archaeology, Mesopotamia, ancient Iraq, cuneiform, digital capture and preservation