On the trail of medieval writers with artificial intelligence

On the trail of medieval writers

St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences Research Project Awards Manuscripts to Authors

The monasteries have vast collections of medieval manuscripts. In most cases, there is no way of knowing how many scribes were active in the monasteries, whether they moved between monasteries, and how the scriptoria were organized.

A research project at the University of Applied Sciences in St. Pölten supports historical research and uses artificial intelligence to identify transcribers of manuscripts from the 12e century in the library of the monastery of Klosterneuburg.

ST. PÖLTEN, Austria, December 12, 2022 Until now, the traditional analysis of manual writing style has been carried out by experts in a tedious and time-consuming process.





There are approaches to identify manuscripts of medieval scribes using machine learning. However, these cannot be applied to large collections of texts. We are talking about tens of thousands of pages said Markus Seidl of the Institute for Creative Media and Technology at St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences, who is leading the project and together with his team has developed a procedure for applying the analysis automatically to large volumes of manuscripts.

Thanks to artificial intelligence and machine learning, the number of pages can be analyzed faster. The purpose is not to identify individual scribes as persons or by name, but to verify whether different texts come from the same or different scribes.

Collaboration between humans and machines

We combine machine learning and human expertise to get the best of both worlds said Mr. Seidl. The machine suggests a certain scribe to the paleographers – the researchers of ancient writing. Experts can either accept or reject the suggestion, or make another suggestion. The computer model is gradually improved thanks to the evaluations of the experts.

This project not only helps us to work interactively on an important desire for historical research. It also creates new analytical possibilities and tools that provide deeper knowledge of all other medieval scriptoria in the region that is now Lower Austria. Based on the study of the scriptorium of the monastery of Klosterneuburg in the last third of the 12e century, we can answer larger unresolved questions regarding the organization of the written word in late medieval monasteries in Lower Austria “, underlined Martin Haltrich, director of the library of the monastery of Klosterneuburg.

name of the project

The project is funded by the Gesellschaft für Forschungsförderung NÖ as part of the FTI Call 2018 for digitization. The project partners are Klosterneuburg Monastery and the Technical University of Vienna.

St. Polten University of Applied Sciences

The St. Pölten UAS is a performance-oriented higher education organization with strong practical relevance in the fields of media, communication, management, digital technologies, IT, security, railway technologies, health sciences and social sciences. As a European university, St. Pölten UAS manages the European university alliance E³UDRES² (Engaged – European – Entrepreneurial University as Driver for European Smart and Sustainable Regions) and works on the development of smart and sustainable regions with partner universities in seven country.

On the trail of medieval writers with artificial intelligence

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On the trail of medieval writers with artificial intelligence


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