Melissa Terras, Image to Interpretation

Gregg Schwender posts in the What’s New in Papyrology blog the following summary of a new publication. I re-post this here not only because the Vindolanda website is one of the first pilots of the EpiDoc schema, but because this is a methodological and technological issue that is of just as vital importance to epigraphers as it is to papyrologists. (Not to mention a great book.)

Image to Interpretation: An Intelligent System to Aid Historians in Reading the Vindolanda Texts

Melissa Terras
ISBN13: 9780199204557ISBN10: 0199204551 hardback, 264 pages, Dec 2006
Price: $95.00 (06)


The ink and stylus tablets discovered at the Roman fort of Vindolanda are a unique resource for scholars of ancient history. However, the stylus tablets in particular are extremely difficult to read. This book details the development of what appears to be the first system constructed to aid experts in the process of reading an ancient document, exploring the extent to which techniques from Artificial Intelligence can be used to develop a system that could aid historians in reading the stylus texts. Image to Interpretation includes a model of how experts read ancient texts, a corpora of letter forms from the Vindolanda text corpus, and a detailed description of the architecture of the system. It will be of interest to papyrologists, researchers in Roman history and palaeography, computer and engineering scientists working in the field of Artificial Intelligence and image processing, and those interested in the use of computing in the humanities.

Product Details

264 pages; 86 illus.; ISBN13: 978-0-19-920455-7; ISBN10: 0-19-920455-1

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. How Do Papyrologists Read Ancient Texts? Knowledge Elicitation and the Papyrologist (1)
3. The Palaeography of Vindolanda. Knowledge Elicitation and the Papyrologist (2)
4. Image to Interpretation (1). Using Artificial Intelligence to Read the Vindolanda Texts , Paul Robertson (co-author)
5. Image to Interpretation (2). Results , Paul Robertson (co-author)
6. Conclusion

Melissa Terras is Lecturer in Electronic Communication, School of Library, Archive and Information Studies, University College London

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