Guidelines to the Users of the DBMNT

I tried to make the using of the DBMNT as intuitive as possible and I hope that it will be easy to move around, browse and search the records, not only for regular users of papyrological and epigraphical databases. Nevertheless, below I give a description of how the database works along with some search tips, information that ought to facilitate the effective use of this tool.

From the starting site of the DBMNT, and in fact from anywhere within the database, the user can either go directly to a particular record (by entering its DBMNT number in the field 'DBMNT no.' and clicking the 'Go' button) or browse all records (by clicking the 'Browse all' button) or launch a search (by entering specific values in one or more search fields and clicking the 'Apply' button). While the first action takes the user directly to the text card, the two remaining ones result in a list of records (all of them or only those fulfilling search criteria), with basic information about objects, including the type of medium, type of text, its language, provenance, date, and contents, as well as the principal bibliographic reference. By clicking the square button with a number on the left-hand side (these numbers represent the results of queries and are not to be mistaken with DBMNT numbers) the user is brought to the object card. The button 'Return to the search results' takes the user back to the list of records.

The text cards are arranged in six tabs:

The database is (almost) fully searchable. In order to conduct a query the user needs to choose a field from a drop-down menu (e.g. 'Provenance'), type in a searched word/phrase (e.g. Faras), and click the 'Apply' button. Additionally, in order to search records that do not contain specific words/phrases in a given field, the user needs to tick the 'Not' field (in our example this will result in finding all texts that are not from Faras). The queries can contain multiple (up to ten) conditions, connected with the quantifiers 'and' or 'or'. For example, while searching for all texts from Faras and Qasr Ibrim one must use 'or' ('Provenance' > 'Faras' + 'or' +'Provenance' > 'Qasr Ibrim'; using 'and' would mean that the search is for texts that are from Faras and Qasr Ibrim at the same time) and while looking for epitaphs from Faras 'and' must be employed ('Provenance' > 'Faras' + 'and' + 'Type of text' > 'epitaph'; using 'or' would result in a list of all epitaphs and all texts from Faras).

A certain difficulty concerns searches involving dates. Users will notice that the dating of texts is recorded in two separate fields ('Date' and 'Century'). This is only a temporary and – indeed – not very professional solution, but before the search engine is improved it must remain as such so as to allow users to conduct searches for sources dated within particular periods. Thus, in order to search for Old Nubian documents from Qasr Ibrim dated to the twelfth century, the user must:

  1. choose 'Language' and type in 'Old Nubian',
  2. choose 'Type of text' and type in 'document',
  3. choose 'Provenance' and type in 'Qasr Ibrim',
  4. choose 'Century' and type in '12',
  5. choose 'Century' again, type in '11', and tick the 'Not' field,
  6. choose 'Century' for the third time, type in '13', and again tick the 'Not' field.

Steps 5) and 6) are necessary due to the system of noting down the dates in the 'Century' field. When the engine is updated, they will be no longer required.

The following fields contain information in one of three languages used in Christian Nubia, namely Greek, Sahidic Coptic, and Old Nubian (for technical reasons Arabic is not included here): ‘Transcription of dating formula’, ‘Months’, ‘Weekdays’, ‘Feasts’, ‘Names’, ‘Offices & titles’, and ‘Toponyms & ethnonyms’. For all three languages I have decided to use the same font based on the Sahidic (Southern Egyptian) uncials, as the majority of Nubian written sources, regardless of their language (apart from Arabic, of course), were executed in the same (or very similar) kind of script, strongly resembling the Coptic uncials. Therefore, all transcriptions in the database should be understood as diplomatic, reflecting the original shape of words in a given source, including diacritical marks, interpunction, non-standard orthography, superscribed letters etc. Transcriptions employ a set of brackets and underdots, used according to the rules of the so-called Leiden system. For the time being it is impossible to search for particular words or phrases without all these additional signs, be they diacritics, brackets, or underdots. In order to facilitate searching, the fields ‘Names’, ‘Offices & titles’, and ‘Toponyms & ethnonyms’ contain, along words in original form, more or less standardised transliterations or translations in the Latin script. Therefore, in order to search for the texts mentioning, for instance, the office of the ‘eparch of Nobadia’ (which could have been noted down in many different forms, see G. Ochała, Offices and titles occurring in Nubian texts), one needs to type in ‘eparch of Nobadia’ in the field ‘Offices & titles’, without the necessity of giving its original form. If one is interested in a specific original form of the term, one must then pick it out from the found records.

Finally, in order to facilitate the searching for different texts, I give a list of specific terms and phrases used in particular fields:

In order to fully benefit from the information collected in our database you should have Coptic fonts installed. We strongly encourage you to utilize Antinoou Coptic fonts set which is available for free form the site of its developer.

If you have Antinoou fonts properly installed both texts shown below should look the same:

Coptic font's sample

DBMNT is run under the auspices of

Department of Papyrology
University of Warsaw

Department of Papyrology, University of Warsaw

The work was financed by

Raphael Taubenschlag Foundation

Raphael Taubenschlag Foundation


Faculty of History
University of Warsaw