College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

National Endowment for the Humanities Digital Start Up Grant to Create Online Medieval Database

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Nancy Wicker, professor of art history at the University of Mississippi

Nancy Wicker, professor of art history, received a $27,000 digital humanities start-up grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Office of Digital Humanities to create an online database to provide easier access to information about the art and material culture of early medieval northern Europe, including that of the Vikings and Anglo-Saxons.

She  is collaborating with Lilla Kopár of Catholic University of America and the Institute of Advanced Technologies in the Humanities at the University of Virginia to establish Project Andvari: A Digital Portal to the Visual World of Early Medieval Northern Europe.

“Our goal is to build an online database to facilitate access to digital collections of art and artifacts from early medieval northern Europe,” Wicker said. “These resources are now scattered around the world, and monographs and catalogs listing inscriptions, runes and monuments are out-of-print or difficult to find.”

The project staff aims to build a single aggregate search engine that links to other databases, cultural heritage sites, museums and archives. Users will be able to search for iconographic parallels, learn about new finds, detect potential comparative material and follow the development and distribution of visual elements, media and types of artifacts.

“Fewer (NEH grants) were awarded than in previous years because of the sequester, so we feel very honored to have been awarded the grant,” Wicker said. “There were eight awards for the Level I grants (for which UM and CUA applied), and 15 for the Level II awards.”

The Institute of Advanced Technologies in the Humanities will provide technical guidance as the project develops, and IATH co-directors Daniel Pitti and Worthy Martin will participate in a two-day workshop. Art historians, literary scholars, archaeologists and museum professionals from the United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Germany and the U.S. will meet to discuss and recommend the conceptual foundations for a prototype system. IATH will also host the project’s website and provide technical support and data.