The Humboldt Chair of Digital Humanities at Leipzig will devote its resources (currently 6.2 million euros) to creating the Open Philology Project. In this we advance a digital successor to that philology which sees in language a source for what Augustus Boeckh in 1822 termed “the understanding of all antiquity, including the events of both the physical and intellectual world.” Philology brings the past to life as deeply and as broadly as possible through the use of surviving linguistic sources. From the human perspective philology constitutes a set of language-based critical scholarly skills — not only annotating (annotation is the basic genre), but also comparing, connecting, interpreting, proving or rejecting hypotheses, finding evidence; critical apparatuses and commentaries often preserve condensed fruits of such reasoning, and Open Philology doesn’t let the scholarly heritage of manuscript and print culture vanish, converting it into digital form and using it as a training field for next generations.
The Open Philology Project will initially focus particularly upon pre-modern society but its methods and goals apply to any society for whom traces of their languages survive. Philology provides an opportunity to advance the intellectual life of individual societies and, equally important, dialogue across civilizations, transcending not only barriers of space and time but of language and culture. Digital technology plays a critical role as a catalyst because — and only because — it allows us to re-imagine how we can more fully achieve, and indeed transform our ability to achieve, these ancient goals of philology. This is not a digital philology or digital humanities project. The Open Philology Project is about philology.
To address the vast challenge of an Open Philology that embraces all historical languages, the Humboldt Chair begins by advancing within a European and a global space the role of that Greco-Roman culture out of which Europe largely emerged. Greco-Roman culture has also contributed significantly to the Islamic world and Europe depended upon Arabic sources. Our goal in this activity is not only to increase the intellectual accessibility of European cultural heritage but also to foster exchange of cultural heritage sources such as Persian, Sanskrit, Classical Chinese, Egyptian from the earliest forms through Coptic, and the Cuneiform Languages of the Ancient Near East, and Classical Mayan from the Western Hemisphere. As a platform for this activity, the Open Philology Project builds upon, and helps develop, the Perseus Digital Library, working with colleagues in Europe, North America and elsewhere to expand open collections and services and to reach an increasingly global audience.
The greatest challenge of humanistic scholarship lies, in our view, in making available the human cultural heritage to the global community. Digitization is a necessary but, by itself, insufficient step in this process. Human cultural heritage must be represented in a way that supports intellectual access across barriers of language and culture. This requirement in turn has implications for the technologies but also for the rights regime that we choose. Open data provides the best strategy by which to promote the circulation of sources within a global context. Collections that are protected behind subscription barriers may serve the interests of specialist communities. Collections that cannot be freely modified and re-circulated may be useful for reference. But scholarship in general and philology in particular must build upon open data if it is to realize its intellectual and social obligations to advance the common understanding of human culture. The Humboldt Chair is therefore committed to open source publication, with machine-actionable Creative Commons licenses requiring attribution and sharing of data and allowing commercial reuse (CC-BY-SA) as the preferred mode of distribution.
The larger Open Philology Project begins with three specific, complementary activities, addressing the challenge of creating comprehensive open resources, providing the education needed to understand and to contribute to those resources, and integrating open resources from many different sources into an integrated computational framework for analysis, annotation, and preservation.
First, the Open Greek and Latin Project makes Greek and Latin sources freely accessible, both digitally and intellectually, to a global public. Second, the Historical Language e-Learning Project provides distributed e-learning of historical languages such as Greek and Latin so that as many as possible may penetrate as deeply as they choose into the sources from which the present has been fashioned. Third, the Scaife Digital Library develops methods to aggregate and integrate from various sources open data, textual and archaeological alike, in any medium, about human cultural heritage, including, but not limited to, the Greco-Roman world.
All three of these projects focus on the production, analysis, and preservation of machine-actionable annotations. All data about historical records is based upon transcriptions, whether from text-bearing objects or from sound recordings, which are themselves annotations that describe the textual content from a region of a written surface or a time interval in a recording. We will continue to make arguments in the digital successors to notes, articles and monographs but we should increasingly integrate into, and use as the foundation for, those arguments machine actionable links to the sources upon which they are based. These links include not only citations to particular sources (e.g., a machine actionable link to a particular reading in a particular edition of Aeschylus) but also to aggregate data (e.g., the results of a search posed as they appeared at a particular time). In the end, born-digital notes, articles and monographs — if they preserve labels inherited for the form of a book — may preserve a family resemblance to their predecessors but they will surely evolve into something qualitatively different as the adapt to the different gravity, if not fundamentally different physics, of a digital space.
 When the exchange rate and the different rates of overhead are considered, this is roughly equivalent to receiving $12,000,000 in US federal grants from NEH or NSF.
 Augustus Boeck, “Oratio nataliciis Friderici Guilelmi III.” (1822): “Itaque ubi, quae et qualis philologia meo iudicio sit, quaeritis, simplicissima ratione respondeo, si non latiore, quae in ipso vocabulo inest, potestate accipitur, sed ut solet ad antiquas litteras refertur, universae antiquitatis cognitionem historicam et philosophicam.”