The task of the Epigraphic Database Heidelberg (EDH) has been the systematic entry of ancient Latin and bilingual (usually Latin and Greek) inscriptions into a complex database. As a result of its interdisciplinary approach, conception and method of work EDH is to be counted among the leading international database projects which collects and provides reliable historical analysis of epigraphic monuments. A distinguishing feature of EDH is its regional focus, its capability of combining the stored metadata as freely as possible and the reciprocal linking of the Epigraphic Text Database with three of the constituent databases of EDH, the Bibliographic Database, the Photographic Database and the Epigraphic Geographic Database.
Its aim has been to render the epigraphic documentation of the majority of the 'European' provinces of the Roman Empire as completely and reliably as possible for online research work. Under the leadership of the Commissione epigrafia e informatica of the AIEGL a decision was made in 2003 to create an international epigraphic database confederation EAGLE (Electronic Archives of Greek and Latin Epigraphy). Since then EDH is responsible for the inscriptions of the Roman provinces. The inscriptions of Italy which had already been entered into EDH were passed on to the Epigraphic Database Rome (EDR). It is now the domain of EDR to improve these records as well as adding to their number in order to complete the entry of all inscriptions of Italy. The long term aim of this confederation is to make all Latin and Greek inscriptions from Antiquity available on the Internet in a standardised system of criteria; one result of this collaboration has been the Europeana EAGLE project. It was with this in mind that EDR was founded on the model of and in cooperation with EDH.
Concept: The Epigraphic Text Database is the heart of EDH and contains about 82.000 inscriptions. Almost all of the records present texts, which have already either been edited in the monumental Inscription corpora – in many cases still valid, but often do not fulfill the standards of modern textual editorial practice – or published, revised and discussed in thousands of scholarly articles. The texts and metadata of the inscriptions are thus presented on the basis of up to date scholarly research. One of the basic principles of the working method of EDH has been that readings have been not simply accepted from the editions and secondary literature. As much as possible these readings were verified at least on the basis of drawings or photographs – in the case of the latter these belong to the records of the Photographic Database – or ideally through autopsy; by means of the "status field" the user of the database is informed about the manner of verification of the readings.
The revision of the inscriptions being processed for the Epigraphic Text Database has been based on a card-index. On the one hand the publications presented in L'Année Épigraphique since 1888 are systematically collected. On the other hand in which the relevant corpora editions and local publications are systematically collected according to the regional method applied by EDH. EDH enjoyed a lively exchange of information with native and foreign scholars and institutions. This made it possible within the framework of cooperation to include their specialist and regionally founded profile in the data presented by EDH.