Thursday, October 20, 2011

Computers Piece Together Scattered Medieval Scrolls

It's like something out of "The Da Vinci Code": Hundreds of thousands of fragments from medieval religious scrolls are scattered across the globe. How will scholars put them back together?

The answer, according to scientists at Tel Aviv University, is to use computer software based on facial recognition technology. But instead of recognizing faces, this software recognizes fragments thought to be part of the same work. Then, the program virtually "glues" the pieces back together.

This enables researchers to digitally join a collection of more than 200,000 fragmentary Jewish texts, called the Cairo Genizah, found in the late 1800s in the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Cairo. The Cairo Genizah texts date from the ninth to the 19th centuries, and they're dispersed amongst more than 70 libraries worldwide. Researchers will report on their progress in digitally reuniting the Cairo Genizah during the second week in November at the 2011 IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision in Barcelona.

Click here to read this article from LiveScience