The IDA maintains a collection of rare books, maps and paper ephemera relating primarily to the history and heritage of the Middle East and North Africa and to the history of the book and book arts. These objects are available for in-person consultation and may, in some cases, be digitized upon request. In addition, the IDA supports public exhibitions of these materials and regularly publishes catalogs – electronic and printed – of its own holdings as well as other important collections.  Finally, through sponsored research, publications, conferences, public lectures and bibliophile events, the IDA promotes the appreciation, conservation and dissemination of cultural heritage in printed form. This is an important adjunct to the IDA’s other heritage preservation activities.


September 5,2018 – “New Techniques for Scanning Papyrus Fragments,” Begbroke Science Park, Oxford, 3PM

November 16, 2018 – Bibliophile Roundtable, Old Library, Old Parsonage, Oxford UK, 1PM

December 18, 2018 – Iconographic Society Meeting, Club of Odd Volumes, Boston, MA 7PM

January 15, 2019 – “Palmyra in Books and Photographs,” Grolier Club, NYC, 1PM


Antiquities of Herculaneum

Martyn, T. & Lettice, J. (London: Bowyer & Nichols, 1773)

Previously the property of James Dawkins

Title page, martyn & lettice antiquities of herculaneum

Title page, martyn & lettice antiquities of herculaneum

plate, antiquties of herculaneum

plate, antiquties of herculaneum

plate, antiquities of herculaneum

plate, antiquities of herculaneum

The Ruins of Palmyra, otherwise Tedmor, in the Desart

Woods, R. & Dawkins, J. (London: 1753)

plate ii from robert wood and james dawkins’ ‘ruins of palmyra’

plate ii from robert wood and james dawkins’ ‘ruins of palmyra’

A History of the University of Oxford. It’s colleges, halls and public buildings.

Ackermann, Rudolph. (London: 1814)

image credit bonhams

image credit bonhams

Ruins of Pompeii: A series of eighteen photographic views

Thomas Dyer (London: Bell & Daldy, 1867)

Previously the Property of George Reisner

TItle, Ruins of Pompeii

TItle, Ruins of Pompeii


‘Bibliographic Field School’ West Point Book Arts Dinner (March 8, 2018)

west point cadets at the penn club, nyc

west point cadets at the penn club, nyc

The IDA hosted faculty and students from the United States Military Academy at West Point’s History of the Book Program at a ‘Bibliographic Field School’ dinner at the Penn Club in New York City. Many thanks to COL David A. Harper, Chairman of the Academy’s English & Philosophy Department.

Mr. Henry Gott of Blackwell’s Rare Books in Oxford, UK was the featured speaker.

“The Bibliophilic Legacy of Greece & Rome:  a lecture and exhibition,” January 8, 2018, Club of Odd Volumes, Boston, MA in conjunction with the Annual General Meeting of the Society of Classical Studies (Exhibition January 8, 2018 to March 10, 2018)

plate, woods & dawkins ‘the ruins of palmyra

plate, woods & dawkins ‘the ruins of palmyra

Cochin, Charles, Observations sur les antiquities de la ville d’Herculanum, C.A. Jombert, Paris, 1734.

Belicard, M., Observations upon the antiquities of the Town of Herculaneum, Wilson & Durham, London, 1753.

[Later English translation of Cochin’s 1734 volume (also on display) inspired by several other notable descriptions of ancient sites published in England in the early 1750s, including Wood & Dawkins account of their 1751 expedition to Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and Greece.]

title, ‘herculaneum rolls’

title, ‘herculaneum rolls’

pompeii, in dyer’s ‘ruins of pompeii’

pompeii, in dyer’s ‘ruins of pompeii’

“Herculaneum rolls, correspondence relative to a proposition made by Dr. Sickler of Hildburghausen upon the subject of their development”. J. Harfield, Printer to his Royal Highness the Prince Regent, London, 1817.

Dyer, Thomas, Ruins of Pompeii, Bell & Daldy, London, 1867. (previously the property of George Reisner)

“Report from the select committee of the Earl of elegance collection of marbles, etc..”. Printed by the House of Commons, enlarged Committee version, 1/6, 1816. (previously the property of Lord Grosvenor, committee chairman and inscribed by him)

Martyn, T. & Lettice, J., Antiquities of Herculaneum, Bowyer & Nichols, London, 1773. (previously the property of James Dawkins).

title, report from the select committee on elgin marbles

title, report from the select committee on elgin marbles

Euripedes. Hecuba [Greek]

8vo. ff 35, I blank. A-D, E. Printed in an elegant Greek typeface, Annotated throughout with with marginalia and interlinear notes in Greek and Latin in a contemporary scholarly hand. Contemporary ownership inscription of “Szusianus” on two initial leaves. Later French ownership inscription [Pignol] on first leaf. Bound in modern blind stamped calf “à l’antique.”

Aristophanes Aristophanis Comicorum Principis Comoediae undecim, e graeco in latinum, ad verbu, translate; Andrea Divo . . .

8vo. [I] ff. 260, A-Z, AA-JJ, K. Title within architectural border. Printers device on verso of last leaf. Italic letter. Decorated initials at start of each play. Bound in early stiff velum over boards with red label on spine with name of author lettered in gilt. Notes in early hand on verso of last leaf. Venice. D Jacob a Burgofranco, 1538. First edition of the first collected translations of the comedies of Aristophanes into Latin. A rare work once supposed lost or a ghost. This translation by Andrea Devo. Neither a particularly accurate nor elegant translation.

Aristophanes Aristophanis Poet COMICI PLUTUS, IAM NVNC per Carolum Gitardum Bituricum & Latinus factus, & Commentarijs insuper fanè quàm vtiliss. Recèns illustrates.

4to. A-Cc, Dd (with additional 4 in D gathering). 214 pp. Text in Roman, Italic and Greek types. Bound in contemporary limp velum (discoloured), Remains of old leather ties. Text appears in Greek, Latin and Commendary. Parisiis. Excudebat Christianus Wechelus, sub Pegaso, in vico Bellousacensi, Anno salutis humane, 1549.

Aeschylus [Works - Greek]

8vo. pp. 212 (last page 212 not numbered and some mis-numberings). A-N, O. Printer’s device on title page. Contemporary signature at foot of title page. Text printed in Royal Greek types. Very generous margins. Bound in green crushed morocco by Sam Ellenport.

Staged Reading of David Ferry’s Aeneid

On January 6, 2018, the IDA produced a staged reading of David Ferry’s new translation of the Aeneid starring veteran Broadway, movie and television actor, Marc Kudisch. The performance, held at the Club of Odd Volumes in Boston, attracted a capacity crowd on one of the coldest nights of the year.

david ferry.jpg

“Catalog of Greek and Latin Materials in the Library of Magdalen College, University of Oxford,” February 24, 2017, Old Library, Magdalen College, University of Oxford (Exhibition February 24 - April 24, 2017 ).

Noted papyrologist, Professor Nigel Wilson, and IDA Founder, Roger Michel, co-presented a new catalog featuring classical materials from one of Oxford’s largest and most important rare books collections.  The IDA imaged the MSS in the catalog using RTI and MS techniques and designed and published the catalog through its in-house imprint, The Venetian Press.


“Images of the Grand Tour,” Faculty House, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, September 9 - 11, 2016. 

In conjunction with its annual conference, IDA Founder Roger Michel spoke about one of the earliest and most influential printed depictions of a classical site, Woods & Dawkins (London: 1753). The Woods & Dawkins volume specially printed for and owned by James Dawkins was brought from the UK and displayed throughout the conference. The IDA has produced a high resolution digital copy of this unique and important book, passed down within the Dawkins family for seven generations.  It is available for inspection upon request. 

Opening pages of wood and dawkins ‘the ruins of palmyra’

Opening pages of wood and dawkins ‘the ruins of palmyra’


Since 2013, the IDA has had its own publishing imprint, The Venetian Press. Working in collaboration with Scott Vile at the Ascensius Press, the IDA has produced a number of scholarly editions, including some produced using traditional letterpress techniques with fine bindings. A complete catalog is available upon request. Representative samples are listed below.


Iconographic Society

Founded in the first decade of the 20th century by Jefferson Coolidge and Z.T. Hollingsworth, the Iconographic Society was Boston's response to NYC's Iconophiles. Both cities were home to great publishing houses, fine art binderies and antiquarian book collectors. The IS and Iconophiles reflected those traditions, devoting themselves to the creation, printing and publishing of fine art prints of the highest quality. The IS regularly featured the work of such acclaimed engravers as Sidney Lawton Smith and Hedley Fitton. The IDA is pleased to support the continuing work of the Iconographic Society by sponsoring events, lectures and the publication of new artworks.

Magdalen cover.jpg

“A Catalogue of the Greek Manuscripts of Magdalen College, Oxford”, Drafted by Mark L. Sosower, Revised and completed by Nigel Wilson

Published by the Venetian Press in 2016, this catalogue of Greek manuscripts from Magdalen College, Oxford, represents the work of Mark L. Sosower, and was completed by renowned philologist Prof. Nigel Wilson.

Beowulf in Maori

IMG_3188 (1).jpg

Published as a book by the Venetian Press in 2014 and performed live in spoken Maori in Boston the same year, this edition of Beowulf was translated into Maori by famed culture expert Ataahua Papa. The January 2014 performance, at the Club of Odd Volumes in Boston, MA, was trilingual in Maori, English and Old-English.

“The Poems - Catullus”, translated by Rodney Dennis

Rodney Dennis’ powerful facing page complete works of Catullus was published posthumously by the Venetian Press in 2015. Dennis’ translation, long thought lost in 1968 amid the chaos of the Prague Spring, was miraculously recovered in 2014. The IDA, through its Venetian Press, has produced a deluxe letterpress re-edition of Dennis’ work. A man of many parts and unique talents, Dr. Dennis worked at the Houghton Library for many years as deputy to that great library’s most esteemed director, Roger Stoddard. Dr. Stoddard and the Dennis family were on hand in Boston for the launch of this new edition in May, 2015. Dennis’ translation is currently used in the Classics Department at Harvard College, a testament to its enduring quality.


Mark Twain’s “Etiquetical Requirements”

In partnership with Masterworks Museum, the Twain House & Museum and the Bermuda National Archives, the IDA published a previously ‘lost’ Mark Twain short fiction work entitled “Etiquetical Requirements,” documenting the author’s first impressions of a cricket match.  Produced using traditional letterpress printing techniques, “Etiquetical Requirements” was published in conjunction with a major Twain retrospective exhibition at Masterworks in 2014.


St. Catherine’s Monastery Project with Dr. Robin Cormack and Dr. Maria Vasilaki

St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai Peninsula houses an amazing array of scrolls, papyrii, books and other ephemera. The IDA is working with Dr. Robin Cormack of the University of Cambridge and Dr. Maria Vasilaki to use innovative imaging technologies to identify and localize the materials used in the icons stored at the site. In this way, we hope to more accurately date them and better establish their provenance. We also hope to work with St. Catherine’s to assist in the digitization of their manuscript archive.

Ancient Papyri: the appliance of science

at the uk particle accelerator

at the uk particle accelerator

Dr. Alexy Karenowska and her team at the University of Oxford have been working in collaboration with scholars from the US and UK on ground-breaking techniques for reading fragile papyri. The scrolls under examination come from a range of sites, including Herculaneum. Many of these documents are too fragile to unfurl. However, through new types of chemical and particle beam analysis of the inks used to create them, Dr. Karenowska and her collaborators have been able to decipher the text of some of these ancient manuscripts.

Digitizing Dawkins: creating a digital copy of The Ruins of Palmyra

The IDA’s Benjamin Altshuler has been working to fully digitize the IDA Library’s copy of Woods & Dawkins The Ruins of Palmyra, Otherwise Tedmor, in the Desart. The book, which contains a large number of beautifully preserved plates, will be available from the IDA upon request.

cover, ‘a world of fragile parts’

cover, ‘a world of fragile parts’

‘A World of Fragile Parts’ with the Victoria & Albert Museum

In collaboration with the Victoria & Albert Museum, the IDA published A World of Fragile Parts to accompany the exhibition of the same name at the 2016 Venice Biennale. The IDA was also a partner in the exhibition itself, donating a replica of the keystone from Palmyra’s Triumphal Arch and hosting a number of ancillary events.

See articles on the exhibition at, and

The Philae Obelisk: Tales from Egypt, Dorset and Outer Space, edited by Jane Massseglia

cover, ‘the philae obelisk’

cover, ‘the philae obelisk’

The Philae Obelisk, at Kingston Lacy in Dorset is second in importance only to the Rosetta Stone for translating ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs. This book, published in collaboration with the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents (CSAD), catalogues research on the history and significance of the obelisk undertaken by archaeologists and classicist from the University of Oxford and University of Reading. The IDA’s Benjamin Altshuler coordinated field work at the site and contributed exciting new images of the obelisk’s surface using RTI and other advanced imaging technologies. You can watch a video of the RTI process on the obelisk HERE.


arion volume 25.1, 2017

arion volume 25.1, 2017

reproduced with permission from arion journal

reproduced with permission from arion journal

The Institute for Digital Archaeology is proud to co-publish Arion: A Journal of Humanities and the Classics at Boston University. The journal, edited by Professor Herbert Golder, has been one of the most distinguished publications in classics since its inception. The journal prides itself on producing high quality material that is accessible to non-specialist readers as well as interesting and innovative content across a broad spectrum of topics. Learn more at


‘Palmyra - for Roger Michel’ - a poem by Karl Kirchwey

‘The Role of Writing in the Interpretation of the Visual Arts’ - Paul Barolsky

‘Ulysses meets Ulysses’ - Rachelle Bijou

‘Shedding New Light on Ancient Objects’ - Benjamin Altshuler & Thomas Mannack