The Encyclopaedia of the Hellenic World (EHW) is an original electronic project aiming at collecting, recording, documenting, presenting and promoting the historical data that testify to the presence of Hellenic culture throughout time and space. EHW includes entries that concern geographical-cultural areas lying beyond the borders of the Hellenic nation-state.

The EHW aims to offer a complete view of the development, spatial dissemination of the Hellenic cultural phenomenon through time. The issues under examination are not dealt with individually, detached from the framework within which they were created, but in relation to the geographical region in question as well as the non Hellenic cultural traditions. EHW’s ultimate goal is to contribute to the understanding of how Hellenic culture was shaped and disseminated, taking under consideration its contacts and osmoses with other cultural realities and traditions.

EHW’s entries cover the entire spectrum of the Hellenic life and activities and take advantage of the results of current research in relevant scientific fields. EHW draws information as well from archives and archaeological excavations.

The electronic format of the EHW enables it to utilize fully the new digital technologies regarding the design of practical methods of integration, structuring and management of a considerable volume of textual and audiovisual material. The applications developed within the framework of the EHW’s design result from general methodologies regarding the electronic and multimedia presentation of historical and cultural information. In this way, the applications can be useful during the process of other projects that have a similar thematic content.

The fact that the EHW is available through the Internet, providing free access to all, and its specially designed Internet structure make it accessible to a wider, larger and more varied public than the one of a printed version, since the world wide web is today one of the main means of education, communication, information and entertainment.

The EHW aims at the automatic creation of potential for the dynamic development of content, inter-disciplinary collaborations, educational and scientific virtual communities, the promotion of knowledge in scientific and educational issues and, finally, the provision of by-products of cultural/educational use and coherent thematic units of historical/cultural information to interested communities and institutions. 

The EHW aspires to constitute, in the future, the infrastructure of a site that will attract the interest and production of creative scientific research regarding Hellenic history and culture. Regardless of the partial thematic units that will be determined by region and/or time, the infrastructure will be able to administer dynamic content and services which will have to do with the totality of Hellenic history and culture.

The design, implementation and development of electronic applications for the collection, organization and distribution of cultural content constitute a significant scientific issue that is posed herein. In this framework, the EHW enhances the development of skills of those working in FHW (historians, archaeologists, documentalists, librarians, translators, information technology specialists) as well as of the great number of scientists that are working in educational and cultural institutions (teachers, professors, scientific and teaching personnel of educational and research foundations, museologists, museum educators, etc.) Finally, through the project’s web format, Hellenic history and culture and the concept of Hellenic identity is promoted through the capabilities of the digital era. 

The EHW is original in its conception, design, organization and operation. It integrates a number of projects related to Hellenic culture (data bases, electronic texts archives, audiovisual archives, multimedia applications, connections with Internet sites which provide research and information services). In its first stage the project’s structure is defined around the following units:

·         Entries database, where the historical and cultural information is organized and presented in the form of encyclopedic entries that are accompanied by photographic documenting material.

·         Audiovisual applications, where the information appearing in the entries is complemented with the visualization of historical events, processes and phenomena, three-dimensional representations, digital models of cities, music and video.

·         Bibliographical database, which includes the complete bibliography of the entries and will be gradually updated, independently from the entries.

·         Historical interactive atlas, where the spatial information is organized in the form of maps and is complemented with historical and audiovisual information.

Technically, the project requires the design and implementation of data bases capable to include the information itself as well as information metadata and “smart” user interfaces that will be, on one hand, supporting the historians, architects, documentalists, editors etc. during content production, control and integration and on the other hand, they will be providing the audience with alternative ways for navigation and search throughout the information spectrum.

The provided information is organized on many levels (texts, footnotes, chronologies, summaries of entries, bibliography, documentation, captions for visual material) and types (text, static and moving image, sound), fully utilizing multimedia technology and having increased interactivity.

Special systems and application have been developed to cover the EHW needs, aiming to broaden the capabilities of the conventional tools for writing and storing digital material as well as to ensure access to entries in digital format.

The EHW appeals to the wider audience, with emphasis on educational and research communities. The EHW’s capability to approach this wide range of people is based on the processing of various information and analysis levels, each of which can serve the cognitive needs of users who have a different degree of interest.