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Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Digitising Dunhuang
I was fortunate to catch an excellent broadcast on the Dunhuang caves today. Having admired the world's oldest known printed book in the British Library's Silk Road exhibition last year, I've become fascinated with the the work of the International Dunhuang Project. Basically, a rich archeological hoard (mostly textual) was found and plundered by Aurel Stein at the beginning of the twentieth century. Others, of various nationalities followed and by the 1920s material was dispersed around the globe. Dedicated scholars working across international boundaries are slowly cataloguing and digitising the material. It's been suggested that no-one has ever seen all the material together, but soon you will be able to see it all (virtually), even though it is dispersed, thanks to new technology. You will be able to do a virtual visit, actually entering the cave, eventually, but there are a few sticking points around intellectual property to negotiate first.

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