The project “Epigraphische Datenbank Heidelberg” (i.e. “Epigraphic Database Heidelberg”, or EDH for short) was established in 1986 with a duration of five years under the auspices of the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Program, and further funded from 1991 onwards by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation. Since 1993, it has been a research project at the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences with a duration until 2020. The research project’s task is the recording and editing of Latin and bilingual (Latin-Greek) inscriptions of the Imperium Romanum within a complex database, and the user-friendly presentation of these on the Internet. The text of each epigraphic document is checked and presented with metadata and, where possible, photographs to contribute to the 1.4 million metadata relevant to research contained within the databases. The EDH has thus established itself internationally as an interface which enables representative and interdisciplinary searching and evaluation of epigraphic evidence.
The database presently consists of some 78,600 inscriptions. Since September 1997, the public has had access by means of the Internet to the inscription database, in its entirety and as it grows, with all available information on the each inscription and its carrier. Since 2004, the “Epigraphische Bibliographie Heidelberg” (“Epigraphic Bibliography Heidelberg”) has also been accessible online (presently containing some 16,000 titles). As of 2007, the entire inventory of the Heidelberg epigraphic phototheque has also been made available online along with the most important metadata related to the inscriptions depicted (presently roughly 38,500 data entries and digitalisations), and is connected to the relevant data entries of the inscription database. The exact localisation of the find sites is stored in the geography database (presently some 28,000 entries) established in 2012 and linked with the inscriptions database.
Under the aegis of the “Commissione epigrafia e informatica der AIEGL (Association Internationale d’Epigraphie Grecque et Latine)”, the 2003 resolution for the establishment of the international epigraphic database federation was adopted. In addition to the regular extension of the epigraphic data inventory on the Roman provinces, a concept is presently being developed within the EDH in order to secure the future sustainability and utility of the data and infrastructure through the application of open standards and methods from digital humanities.