The Thesaurus d’Epigraphie Islamique project aims to bring together inscriptions in Arabic, Persian and Turkish, as well as other languages of the Muslim world, up to the year 1000 of the Hegira (= 1591-1592 A.D.). Founded, designed and directed by Ludvik Kalus, it is co-directed by Frédéric Bauden and edited by Frédérique Soudan.
The Thesaurus d’Epigraphie Islamique is related to but independent of the Répertoire Chronologique d’Epigraphie Arabe (RCEA). The project takes into account not just Arabic inscriptions, as was the case with the Répertoire, but also those in Persian, Turkish, and others languages. In addition, computer technology has greatly improved the presentation of the data and made it much more user-friendly,.
The Max van Berchem Foundation in Geneva agreed to sponsor the project, which was officially launched in February 1992.
As the database was computerised, there were many initial difficulties: at the beginning of the 1990s, there was little compatibility between different computer systems (the problem of Latin diacritical characters, "neutral" characters in the Arabic script, differences between Macintosh and PC, etc.). As soon as the project started, the inscriptions were entered on a Macintosh computer. The project went, not without difficulty, through several different computer systems. From 1998 onwards, the project was distributed on CD-ROM and later on DVD-ROM, with each new disc containing one (or possibly two or three) new installment including the entries for a new region.
Since October 2011, for the 10th installment, the database has been available free of charge on the Internet. From the 16th installment, published in web format in 2020, the entire Muslim world is covered.
The database is regularly enriched and completed and, after its transformation into SQL (in 2020), it is now updated instantaneously. Thanks to this tremendous IT advance, it is no longer disseminated in installments because, since 2021, it is updated "live" every day. Only the records in the "Read us" section are updated once a year, in January.
The project aims to encourage informal but effective collaboration both within and between the different regions of the Islamic world.
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