Geomapping Landscapes of Writing (GLoW)

Geomapping Landscapes of Writing, or GLoW for short, is a three-year research project at Uppsala University Department of Linguistics and Philology headed by Jakob Andersson (PI) and Rune Rattenborg (Co-PI), with additional staff including Seraina Nett (Researcher), Carolin Johansson and Gustav Ryberg Smidt (Research Assistants) The project is funded through a 7.8 million Swedish kronor (c. €730,000) grant from Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences Research (grant number MXM19-1160:1) for 2020-2022. The project aims to assemble and analyse a full digital record of the cuneiform corpus, a script in widespread use across the Middle East from c. 3400 BCE to 100 CE, and arguably one of the largest bodies of written source material from the the ancient world. Drawing on recent advances in digital humanities and geospatial data mapping, this initiative will significantly expand the empirical scope of researchers in the field and beyond with regards to the easy location and query of basic cuneiform text metadata and origin. Concurrently, we will also be exploring large-scale analytical perspectives on the distribution, composition, use and materiality of writing across the full life-span of the cuneiform script. As a first quantifiable and corpus-wide study of one of the greatest corpora of historical records from the ancient world, it will provide a benchmark example of the application of digital and spatial computing tools to the study of writing in early human history.

A map of finds of cuneiform inscriptions from across the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and Central Asia. See Rattenborg et al. 2021 for further details.

Research Programme

The GLoW research programme includes three basic components divided into several work packages. The first includes knowledge exchange (WP1) and dissemination (WP8), the second the gathering of text provenience and collection (WP2) and text metadata (WP3) collection, and the third analyses and research (WP4, WP5, and WP6) based on the assembled data sets. Data collection, undertaken from primo 2020 to ultimo 2021, includes a systematic and exhaustive mapping and indexing of cuneiform inscriptions available in digital catalogues or in print, archaeological locales where cuneiform inscriptions have been found, and collections where cuneiform inscriptions are currently held. Research pacakges are scheduled for medio 2020 to medio 2022, and will focus on broader patterns in the social context of inscribed material culture, dialectal patterns through time and space as emerging from the cuneiform record, and trends in the distribution and composition of the cuneiform corpus over the long term. Data sets and initial results from these work packages will be released on this platform regularly (see Resources). We very much welcome inquiries from researchers and cultural heritage managers regarding any aspect of our research programme. Please contact Co-PI Rune Rattenborg ( for further information.


Our research programme involves a wide range of existing open access digital resources, while also generating new data sets through analogue data collection and digitisation. Our efforts focus primarily on spatial data, text metadata, and integrated bibliographical reference data, prepared to link easily with existing open access data catalogues.

Examples of spatial vector data associated with individual provenience records in CIGS and the different levels of spatial accuracy for each record. See Rattenborg et al. 2021 for further information.

For example, we have recently released a comprehensive spatial data index of finds of cuneiform inscriptions. The most recent version of this index (CIGS v.1.3, 1 July 2021), contains information on more than 550 individual archaeological locales across Europe, Asia, and Africa where cuneiform inscriptions have been found. A range of different spatial data sets developed and maintained by assyriological researchers at Uppsala University are available from our Geographic Data for Ancient Near Eastern Archaeological Sites webpage, where you can also find the latest version of the ANE.kmz, an index of more than 2,500 archaeological sites across the Middle East maintained by Olof Pedersén.


The project relies on the input of an expert group of advisers, including Adam Anderson (Digital Humanities at Berkeley), Nathan Morello (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München), and Émilie Pagé-Perron (University of Oxford). GLoW collaborates with a diverse range of research consortia in Sweden and abroad. At Uppsala University, we form an active part of research hubs and networks for further exploring and expanding approaches to digital humanities and philology, including Digital Humanities Uppsala, the network TextWorlds: Global Mapping of Texts From the Pre-Modern World, and individual research projects at the Department of Linguistics and Philology and the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History. Internationally, we maintain a close working relationship with various research consortiums, in particular the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative.

We also welcome expressions of interest from junior researchers interested in discussing and developing standalone projects related to the GLoW research programme, for submission with funding programmes at the Swedish Research Council or Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, among others. Please contact PI Jakob Andersson ( for further information.

Recent publications

Last modified: 2021-12-17