Wikimedia Commons. "Funerary moasic of the family of Moqimu with names written in Syriac, 3rd century AD, found in Edessa (now destroyed)." Last modified January 8, 2012.

Welcome to SPEAR: Syriac Persons Events and Relations

General Editor: Daniel L. Schwartz, Texas A&M University

Editorial Committee

  • Chair: Dr. Daniel L. Schwartz, Texas A&M University
  • Dr. Kutlu Akalin, Department of Syriac Language and Culture, Mardin Artuklu University (Turkey)
  • Dr. Volker L. Menze, Department of Medieval Studies, Central European University
  • Dr. Meredith L.D. Riedel, Duke University
  • Ex Officio: Dr. Jeanne-Nicole Mellon Saint-Laurent, Marquette University

Publication Status: Forthcoming

Syriac Persons, Events, and Relations (SPEAR) is a prosopographical database providing information about persons and their relationships within the context of historical events. SPEAR uses a "factoid" approach to prosopography that captures 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 provides a prosopography drawn from Syriac source material that is relevant to Syriac Studies, Classics, Byzantine Studies, and Islamic Studies. It contains information on all of the individuals and groups appearing in the Syriac texts included in the database. SPEAR offers multiple search fields enabling researchers to return hits for a wide variety of queries including parameters such as ethnicity, language spoken, occupation, etc. Each piece of data directs the user to a specific citation in one or more primary source texts and keyword tagging used throughout the dataset links this prosopographical material to's bibliography database.

SPEAR provides a rich collection of Linked Data on persons encoded using the TEI standards for XML markup. The current release is a beta version designed to make this data available to researchers and the public. Future development plans include the development of greater capabilities to perform faceted search and browse on this dataset.