Welcome to SPEAR: Syriac Persons Events and Relations
General Editor: Daniel L. Schwartz, Texas A&M University
Publication Status: Forthcoming
Syriac Persons, Events, and Relations Project (SPEAR) is a prosopographical reference work designed to provide information about persons and their relationships within the context of historical events. SPEAR uses a "factoid" approach to prosopography that seeks to capture data points asserted in historical texts. A factoid differs from a fact in that it indicates an assertion made by a primary source text, rather than a piece of information that a modern editor affirms as true. This approach allows for the fullest dataset possible and captures data of particular importance for social history. For example, a fictional biography of a saint can still reveal a great deal of information about how people understood saints and the town councilors, clergy, and peasants with whom they interacted. The factoid approach is critical for creating a database of use to social historians as well as historians of the political or religious institutions upon which traditional print prosopographies have focused.
SPEAR aims to provide scholars in Syriac Studies, Classics, Byzantine, and Islamic Studies access to a reference work containing information on all of the individuals and groups appearing in the Syriac texts included in the database. SPEAR will offer multiple search fields enabling researchers to return hits for a wide variety of queries and analyze relationships between ethnicity, language, occupation, religious confession, etc. Furthermore, each piece of data will direct the user to a specific citation in one or more primary source texts.
An initial data model of SPEAR is nearing completion using data from the Syriac "Chronicle of Edessa." Sample entries from this data are available below.