A well-known collection of historical texts, the Cairo Genizah is one of the most valuable sources of primary documents for medieval historians and religious scholars. The 350,000 fragments found in the Genizah include not only religious texts, but also social and commercial documents, dating from the 9th to 19th century. But the collection is scattered among 70 institutions worldwide, including libraries in Cambridge, Jerusalem, and New York City, and scholars are hampered by both the wide dispersal of the collection as well as their fragmentary condition.
Now researchers at Tel Aviv University are working to piece together this illuminating collection, bringing the pages of the texts back together for the first time in centuries. The results are being made available to scholars around the world through a website. Profs. Lior Wolf and Nachum Dershowitz of TAU's Blavatnik School of Computer Science have developed sophisticated software, based on facial recognition technology, that can identify digitized Genizah fragments thought to be a part of the same work and make editorial "joins."
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Piecing Together the Priceless 'Cairo Genizah'