Author Topic: What is the Caucasian Prosopography Project? (Basics and FAQs)  (Read 4448 times)


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What is the Caucasian Prosopography Project? (Basics and FAQs)
« on: December 25, 2015, 12:23:52 AM »
The Caucasian Prosopography Project, or CPP, is a prosopography database with accompanying analytical tools.

What is Prosopography?
Put simply, it's the comparative study of groups of individuals based on shared characteristics. For most figures in the medieval world, we only have sparse mentions and fragmentary biographies, along with occasional epigraphic (inscriptions) or sigillographic (lead seals) evidence. A prosopographical study looks at these biographical fragments en masse to discover patterns in general about these groups of people.

How does this differ from previous databases?
Firstly and most obviously, the Caucasus has never had a dedicated database for this time period before. There is a major methodological jump in the CPP compared to previous databases too, however; it is intended to be a "second generation" database.

Older databases, such as the famous (and invaluable) Prosopography of the Byzantine World, are designed to allow a prosopographical reading of source material. That is to say, what they are intended to do is, with the minimum possible analysis on the part of the database's creators, present source material in a rearranged form such that it is attached to individuals rather than being in the sequential form it is often found in. Such a database - the "first generation" - is necessary for further prosopography

The idea of a "second generation" database like the CPP is not that it supersedes first generation databases, rather it compliments them and has different aims. The CPP includes a small layer of inherent analysis, and attempts to categorise and re-format the data gained from a prosopographical source reading. This, in turn, means that a set of analytical tools can be developed around the data to query the database in different ways and with different formats of output. There are some disadvantages to this system; frequently the more heavily categorised relies on some level of calculation or accepting the testimony of one source over another, making the data that are being processed less "raw". On the other hand, these analytical tools may uncover patterns in the information that would not be easily discovered with more conventional prosopographical methods.
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