ETANA is a multi-institutional collaborative project initiated in August 2000, as an electronic publishing project designed to enhance the study of the history and culture of the ancient Near East. Funded initially by a planning grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, then by a larger digitization grant from the same foundation, the ETANA web portal was launched in 2001. The founding institutions and associations that conceived and implemented this project were:
- American Oriental Society
- American Schools of Oriental Research
- Case Western Reserve University
- Cobb Institute of Archeology
- Oriental Institute (University of Chicago)
- Society of Biblical Literature
- Vanderbilt University Divinity School
- Vanderbilt University Library
- Vanderbilt University Press
The Mellon grant funded the conversion of ABZU from a collection of static html pages to a database delivery platform, the digitization of almost 200 volumes of core materials for the study of the Ancient Near East, and the development of the web portal.
Early on discussions began among the advisory panel of the need for an archival repository for archaeological data. It was with this need in mind that the ETANA partners sought and received a National Science Foundation grant in 2004, to develop software to create electronic mappings to allow searching across excavation sites. The prototype “Digbase” structure was designed at Virginia Tech by Professor Ed Fox and his students, with Professor James Flanagan and Joanne Eustis, University Librarian both of Case Western University, serving as the principal investigators of the grant. Additional Core Texts were digitized as a part of USAID grant to assist Iraqi universities rebuild their archaeology programs and collections. Stony Brook University in New York State has digitized 181 cuneiform text publications and archaeological site reports, including dissertations relating to archaeology in Iraq. Prof. Elizabeth Stone was the Principal Investigator for this grant. Vanderbilt Divinity Library also digitized additional Core Texts for ETANA, using a grant from the Cooperative Digital Resources Initiative (CDRI). This small grant allowed for the addition of 30 additional volumes to the Core Texts corpus, which stands at 368 volumes as of Fall 2010. Professor Jack Sasson of Vanderbilt University conceived of the eTACT database, based on discussions at the Muenster Rencontre in 2006, a collection of English language translations of Akkadian texts, which was added to the ETANA portal in 2007.