Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Digital Analysis of Syriac Handwriting

Digital Analysis of Syriac Handwriting
A digital paleography project that displays folia from 90% of surviving Syriac manuscripts securely dated before the twelfth century and generates custom designed script charts.
The Digital Analysis of Syriac Handwriting (DASH) project began in 2010 as a collaboration between a professor of religious studies, a professor of computer science, and an engineering major in search of a senior thesis. In recent years, it has expanded to include a professor of visual analytics as an additional principal collaborator, researchers from Duke, UC Davis, Notre Dame, and Belgium as consultants, and over 30 undergraduate and graduate research assistants. The project has received support from the Andrew Mellon Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Academy of Religion, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and Stanford University.
This digital paleography project uses ancient manuscripts written in the Aramaic dialect of Syriac as a case study for exploring how recent advances in the digital analysis of handwriting can help scholars better ascertain a manuscript’s provenance, identify manuscripts written by the same scribe, and trace out the chronological development of ancient scripts. Although the initial project goal is to substantially advance our understanding of Syriac Christianity, its larger effect is providing a platform and a model for similar ventures in other languages such as Arabic, Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and Sanskrit. At present, the project consists of a core image database along with three project trajectories that utilize this data.

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