About the Database

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The Database

At the centre of the project is a searchable database on which all the early evidence for the cult of the saints is being collected, whether in Armenian, Coptic, Georgian, Greek, Latin or Syriac, with summaries of long texts and full quotation of key passages, both in the original language and in English translation.  Every piece of evidence will be accompanied by a brief discussion, considering issues such as its dating and the details of cult that it reveals.  This database will be fully searchable, making it simple to access all the evidence for the early cult of a single saint, such as Martin of Tours, or to narrow the search down – for instance, to evidence for churches dedicated to Martin in 6th-century Italy.  It will also be possible to narrow searches to specific types of evidence (for instance, images only), or to specific cult practices (such as the creation of contact relics or the practice of incubation, sleeping at a shrine in the hope of a dream-vision).

The database will be central to our own research, and indispensable to the main overall aim of the project: to integrate the evidence of saints’ cult across all the Christianities of the period, even though this evidence is very extensive, is in six languages, and survives in a large number of different media (Lives of saints, histories, liturgical texts, lists of feast-days, inscriptions, images in paint and mosaic, papyrus documents, and more besides).  The database will, towards the end of the project, be made freely available on-line, so that others can use it for their own interest and research.  In as far as this can be achieved, the entries will be written using as little technical and specialist language as possible, while remaining analytical and scholarly (with reference to further reading, for those who want to dig deeper into any specific aspect).

The database has been constructed, in full consultation with the team, by Jeremy Worth, ICT Manager of Oxford University’s School of Archaeology.