Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bloomberg discovers the Cairo Geniza

BLOOMBERG has discovered the Cairo Geniza:
Israel Computer Solves Ancient Jigsaw of Prayers, Wedding Vows

November 15, 2011, 3:12 AM EST

By Gwen Ackerman

Nov. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Thousands of fragments of centuries- old Jewish texts, from shopping lists to historical documents, are being joined together using new software.

The scraps of the Cairo Genizah being cataloged include a letter from a wife complaining about her husband and a rabbinical judge’s authorization of the kosher status of cheese sold by a Jerusalem grocer.

The software, developed by Tel Aviv University professors Lior Wolf and Nachum Dershowitz, is analyzing texts that span about 1,000 years of Middle East history. The algorithm program adapts facial recognition technology to identify similar handwriting on documents which are then sorted into digital loose-leaf binders.

“The computer found thousands of items running for a week,” Dershowitz said in a telephone interview. “Then it took months for the scholars to look at it and decide if the computer was correct.”

Background to the project is here and links.