Vetusta Monumenta, a title meaning “ancient monuments” in Latin, is a series of 337 large, lavish pictures of artifacts that were found in England throughout the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries: the first portrait of a king in English history, a medieval drinking horn made out of an elephant’s tusk, Roman mosaics found underground in England, one-of-a-kind coins, jewels, manuscripts, ancient vases, lamps, bells, and shields. Today, many of the artifacts that these pictures depict are lost, damaged, or changed in irreversible ways. The pictures remain the only record left of some of these things. Now, there are only eleven copies of the pictures themselves left in the world.
With the support of a generous, three-year NEH Scholarly Editions and Translations grant, Noah Heringman and I are currently leading a project in collaboration with SCALAR to preserve Vetusta Monumenta by rendering it into an innovative, scholarly digital edition. Our edition develops new technologies that scholars and entrepreneurs can use to search for images as well as text, evaluate archival material, and visualize data. You can watch our progress on the project at vetustamonumenta.org.