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Dyabola Tutorials

July 2, 2010

Dyabola is the name we in Classics usually use to refer to the Archäologische Bibliographie (also sometimes called the Realkatalog) of the Deutsches Archaeologisches Institut, an excellent resource for bibliography in the art and archaeology of the Mediterranean world.  The Archäologische Bibliographie is actually only one of a number of resources available through Projekt Dyabola (see also their blog) on the web, but it is the main one, and the only one to which UGA subscribes.

Dyabola includes citations for books, chapters, journal articles, festschriften and book reviews, but does not contain the full text of these reources. As of this writing it includes citations from 1956- May 2010, and has ca. 566,535 items by ca. ca. 96,813 authors.  There is a free version of the database called Zenon DAI, which has a rather different interface.

I used Dyabola as a graduate student in the late 1990s, and found that once you got used to its unusual interface, it was a powerful tool for discovering citations on a topic.  I’m re-immersing myself in it right now to start teaching it to upper-level undergraduates and graduate students.  My first step has been to gather existing online descriptions of and tutorials for Dyabola.  These include:

  • Youtube videos created by Michael Hughes of NYU in late 2009.  This is where I recommend anyone new to Dyabola to start (at least until I can develop my own tutorial!).  There are two, beginning and advanced, and they are fairly short (less than 5 minutes) and clear.
  • A static web page at UC Berkeley gives an overview of searching for those who hate to learn by video; a similar page is provided by the American Academy in Rome, and another at Bryn Mawr.
  • Dyabola’s own directions are somewhat difficult to use, but for those wrestling with complex searches, or seeking to really understand the database’s power, they are useful.  They are available in English.
  • in 1995, the Bryn Mawr Classical Review published John Tamm’s discussion of Dyabola (which was then available on CD-Rom), which remains useful for its description of the scope and structure of the database.  Reading this detailed review will make younger scholars realize (and older scholars remember) how very blessed we are by the advances in technology that have taken place over the intervening 15 years.

Know of a resource for getting to know Dyabola that I’ve missed?  Please met me know in comments!

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