The project “Epigraphische Datenbank Heidelberg (EDH)” was founded in 1986 with a running time of five years as part of the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Programme and was funded by the Fritz-Thyssen-Foundation in 1991. Since 1993, it has been a research unit of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities with a planned duration until 2020, whose task is to record and edit Latin and bilingual (Latin-Greek) inscriptions of the Roman Empire in a complex database and to make them user-friendly on the Internet. The epigraphic documents are presented in verified readings and linked with currently about 1.3 million research-relevant metadata and photos. The EDH has thus established itself on an international level as an instrument for the representative screening, supplementation, and interdisciplinary evaluation of epigraphic testimonies.
The database currently contains around 74,000 inscriptions. Since September 1997, the inscription database with all available information on inscriptions and inscription carriers has been made available to the public via the Internet. Since 2004, the Heidelberg Epigraphic Bibliography has also been available on the Internet (currently around 15,000 titles). Since 2007, the complete collection of the Epigraphische Fotothek Heidelberg has been available online with the most important metadata on the inscriptions depicted (currently around 37,000 records and digital copies) and is linked to the corresponding records of the inscription database. The exact localisation of the sites is controlled by the entries in the geography database (currently around 27,000 records) established in 2012 and linked to the inscription database.
In 2003, the “Commissione epigrafia e informatica of the AIEGL (Association Internationale d’ Epigraphie Grecque et Latine)” was in charge of the establishment of the international epigraphic database federation. In addition to the regular extension of the epigraphic database to the Roman provinces in the EDH, a concept is currently being worked on to ensure the usability of the data and infrastructure by using open standards and methods of digital humanities.