A multi-disciplinary group of Israeli researchers at Ben-Gurion University, funded by the Israel Science Foundation, is developing new techniques in computer science to manipulate highly degraded documents in Hebrew and Arabic.

The group is part of the emerging global effort to understand, manipulate and archive historical documents so that they are available to researchers in paleography, e.g., liturgical texts, archaeology and history.

The team’s research on algorithms for ancient documents also comprises paleographic analysis of Hebrew and Arabic historical documents – automatic indexing of document collections and determining the writer, location and date of the documents.

The technical goal of the research is to develop new state of the art algorithms for analyzing text and combine them into an easy-to-operate, open source system of tools to aid historical document research throughout the world.

Experiments are being conducted on degraded documents from sources such as the “Cairo Geniza,” copies of which are located at the national liturgy project at Ben-Gurion University, the “El-Aqsa” manuscript library in Jerusalem and the “Al-Azar” manuscript library in Cairo.