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Biographical Info of Joshua D. Sosin

Joshua D. Sosin, Associate Professor of Classical Studies and History and Director of Undergraduate Studies, focuses on the everyday social, economic, and religious life of the Hellenistic world through the lens of inscriptions, documents carved on stone and displayed for public consumption, and papyri, the often fragmentary private documents found in the tombs and garbage dumps of the ancient world.
For Sosin, the often-piecemeal state of the ancient papyri is part of their attraction because each one presents a difficult puzzle in need of a solution, a story in need of reconstruction.  He is also intrigued by the extent to which they reveal “the hard contours of real life lived by real people.” These texts, he says, “invite us to set aside for a moment our preoccupation with those who trafficked in empires and power politics, and instead focus on the intricate legal and economic structures that citizens and Hellenistic cities hammered out in order to make life run”.  Sosin’s approach is exemplified in Unwelcome Dedications: Public Law, Private Religion:  The Case of Laodicea on the Sea, a 2005 article that explores the intersection of economy and religion in the efforts of a trio of Hellenistic priests to protect their private shrine.

Sosin is also actively engaged in the process of enabling digital access to papyrological collections. He is co-director of the Duke Data Bank of Documentary Papyri (DDBDP), a collection of more than 50,000 published Greek and Latin texts that can be searched electronically through the new Papyrological Navigator. He is co-editor of the Checklist of Editions of Greek, Latin, Demotic and Coptic Papyri, Ostraca and Tablets, a running bibliographic control for the field of papyrology, and on the executive committee of APIS – the Advanced Papyrological Information System.  Sosin is also co-Principle Investigator of Integrating Digital Papyrology, a project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that has begun to integrate DDBDP data with other projects, including APIS, and the Heidelberger Gesamtverzeichnis der griechischen Papyrusurkunden Ägyptens. This work is part of a larger vision of making papyrology the first discipline within Classical Studies to be entirely digital, thus allowing researchers from all over the world to search, retrieve and display Greek texts, supplementary metadata and digital images of the papyri themselves, regardless of location, and even to perform the ongoing work of editing in a fully online environment. 

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