Image to InterpretationAn Intelligent System to Aid Historians in Reading the Vindolanda Texts

Image to InterpretationAn Intelligent System to Aid Historians in Reading the Vindolanda Texts

Melissa Terras

Print publication date: 2007

ISBN: 9780199204557

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Abstract

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. Using knowledge elicitation techniques (borrowed from artificial intelligence and engineering science), a model is proposed for how experts construct a reading of a text. A prototype system is presented that can read in image data and produce realistic and plausible textual interpretations of the writing that appears on the documents. Incorporating knowledge elicited from experts working on the texts, and utilizing image processing techniques developed in engineering science to analyze the stylus tablets, the book includes a corpora of letter forms generated from the Vindolanda text corpus, and a detailed description of the architecture of the system. This research presents the first stages towards developing a cognitive visual system that can propagate realistic interpretations from image data.