Sphinx Project

A Database for Terrestrial and Celestial Natural Phenomena recorded in Greek sources from the 6th Century BC to the 2nd Century AD

The purpose of Sphinx project was the creation of a Database for Terrestrial and Celestial Natural Phenomena recorded in Greek sources from the 6th Century BC to the 2nd Century AD.

The Database Sphinx (Version 1 0) contains about 1300 passages in Greek language describing natural phenomena selected from the works of about 205 authors of this period The database contains also about 100 relative pictures from wall-paintings or jars and some inscriptions For the collection of the 1200 passages we have extensively examined 33000 pages of texts (about 793 books) of this period, and we have collected all the relevant with natural phenomena information In the database we have included only the passages describing concrete (real or imaginary) and not trivial natural celestial and terrestrial phenomena

The Database Sphinx is a menu driven, relational database which operates under an "MS-Windows" or "NT-Windows" environment. It is capable to accomplish various types of correlation, classifications and sorting of the recorded phenomena. In addition it is an open application, the user has the possibility to add new records (passages or images) and modify or complete the information of the existing records. Therefore it is possible to use the Database mechanism in order to create new databases concerning other historical periods or sources in different languages, or types of phenomena that we have exclude in this version (for example historical and social phenomena).

    In the current version (10) the main types of phenomena that we have included are the following:
  • Astronomical Phenomena: Solar and Lunar eclipses, novae stars, Solar and Lunar observations, observations of star positions, comets, unidentified phenomena
  • Atmospheric phenomena (i.e. auroras)
  • Meteorological phenomena: Seasonal and non-seasonal phenomena (storms, snow storms, freeze, beginning of seasons etc ), long range phenomena (drought for many years), and indirect information about the climate (season of blossoming, flora, fauna e t c )
  • Seismological activity.
  • Geological activity: Volcano activity, landslides (direct and indirect information) etc
  • Ecological phenomena: Fires of cultivations and forests, technical interventions on nature etc
  • Unidentified phenomena.
    For each recorded phenomenon the Database contains:
  • The Passage(s) of the Greek text(s) as well as the English Translation.
  • The associated bibliographical references.
  • Date determination of the phenomenon.
  • Place determination for the Terrestrial Phenomena.
  • Determination of the category of the phenomenon and related keywords.
  • Comments.
  • A short biography of the author.
  • Information about the book.
  • For the pictures the database contains a short description, the type of the object which contains the picture, date determination, the place (museum) where is the object, and some keywords

The database can operate in view mode and in edit mode.

    In the View Mode the user can retrieve ,view and print:
  • the list of the authors, their short biographies from "The Oxford Classical Dictionary" and the related information about their works
  • the list of the sources/books of each author and short information about each book
  • all the recorded passages by a concrete type of phenomenon or by phenomenon category or by selected keywords or by a particular author
  • all the recorded images and the related information

The user has also the possibility to create view and print his own lists of phenomena by combining simultaneously different criteria (authors, books, place and date of the phenomenon, categories, keywords etc)

All the lists created by the database after a search are created in ASCII format ( txt files). In this way the user has the possibility to import the lists in any word-processing program in order to give any form to the printed report, or to include the list into another text For the accomplishment of every task the user is aided by icons and pull- down menus.

In the Edit Mode, which is password protected, the user can add any type of information (authors, books, passages e.t.c.) or modify the existing information (passages, keywords, types of phenomena etc.) The Edit Mode is also Menu Driven and the user can accomplish all the tasks without difficulty You have the possibility to use "The Edit Mode" in order to create your own databases for different time periods or for types of phenomena which we have not included in the current version. You have also the possibility to change the structure of the existing information, to delete a part of passages in order to keep a specialised database for only one type of phenomena In every step you can check the integrity of the database which you create by using a number of maintenance routines.

The database includes some true type Greek fonts that give the possibility to write and print the ancient Greek text in any type of hardware equipment in a windows environment By including true type fonts for other languages it is possible to include text from non European languages (for example Arabic, Hebrew etc.). The whole application was developed for MS-Windows environment by using the object-oriented language C++ and the Raima Data Base Manager Library (DLL) The Database can accept images in all the widespread formats (JPEG, BMP, PCX, TIF)

The project team was composed by: Prof. D. Dialetis (Project Leader), Ms. A. Gyalouri (Archaeologist), Dr. K. Kleanthous (Software engineer), Mr. N. Matsopoulos (Astronomer), and Ms. E. Xatzioti (Archaeologist).

In some steps of the realisation of the project, the project team was assisted by:

Dr. E. Nikolaidis (Historian of Science), Dr N. Nikoloudis (Historian) and Mr. D. Stratigopoulos (Philologist).

ATTENTION: The Database SPHINX is under a major revision and it is not, temporarily, available for Institutions or individual researchers. For any additional information please contact Prof. Dimitris Dialetis.

Directorate General XII of the European Commission 1994-1997

Prometheus has been funded by the Directorate General XII of the European Commission 1994-1997.