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Digital Coptic project wins $190,000 NEH grant

May 27, 2015
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Caroline T. Schroeder, associate professor of religious and classical studies at University of the Pacific, has been awarded a new grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for an international project to digitize Coptic texts and make them easily available to scholars and others. 

The two-year $192,500 grant was among just six nationally awarded by the NEH Office of Digital Humanities.

The project, called KELLIA, for Koptische/Coptic Electronic Language and Literature International Alliance, is a collaboration among Pacific, Georgetown University and two universities in Germany: University of Göttingen and University of Münster.

The KELLIA project will aid in creating new digital technologies to study and publish digitized texts that are important for the understanding of the Bible and the history of Christianity as well as the cultural heritage of an important religious community in the Middle East.

"The Coptic community has a rich and important history and legacy," Schroeder said. "The Bible was translated into Coptic very early, and the Coptic Bible then influenced the literature, language, and culture of Egypt until Arabic became the primary language of daily life."

The Coptic Orthodox Church is one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, dating back to the third century. Today, the Copts are a religious minority representing an estimated 8 to 10 percent of Egypt's population. 

The new grant was the largest among the six announced this week. The other grants went to investigators at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Rhizome Communications in New York City, the University of Maryland, College Park, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts.

Last year Schroeder was awarded two grants totaling $100,000 to support KELLIA. The funding has enabled scholars around the world to digitize core Coptic texts and develop the tools necessary for computer-aided study and interaction with the materials.

About University of the Pacific
Established in 1851 as the first university in California, University of the Pacific prepares students for professional and personal success through rigorous academics, small classes, and a supportive and engaging culture. Widely recognized as one of the most beautiful private university campuses in the West, the Stockton campus offers more than 80 undergraduate majors in arts and sciences, music, business, education, engineering and computer science, and pharmacy and health sciences. The university's distinctive Northern California footprint also includes the acclaimed Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco and the McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento. For more information, visit

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