Reviewing the Sorting Phase: Overview
By Emily Esten, Judaica Digital Humanities Coordinator at the University of Pennsylvania
Scribes of the Cairo Geniza is a project with the ultimate goal of transcribing Cairo Geniza fragments. With the help of thousands of volunteers from around the world & the advantages of crowdsourcing technology, we work together to decipher some of the most difficult to read fragments in the world. When Scribes of the Cairo Geniza launched in August 2017, we had no idea what to expect. We are so thankful to the 4,087 volunteers who took up the challenge to classify over 40,000 subjects over the past eighteen months, and were wiling to bear with us through the transition to Phase 2.
Before we could ask our volunteers to transcribe these fragments, we needed more information about the fragments themselves. We asked our community to sort Cairo Geniza fragments into groups based on whether they were in Hebrew, Arabic, or both types of scripts. We also asked whether the scripts were written in an informal or formal style and about a few other visual characteristics that hinted at whether the fragment was religious or non-religious in genre.
To celebrate our volunteers’ hard work & review the data produced in the Sorting Phase, we’re sharing a series of blog posts over the next four weeks that answer some of these questions about this project. Part 1 reviews the question of whether a subject was Hebrew or Arabic script. Part 2 reviews the question of whether a subject was written in formal or informal style. Part 3 looks at visual characteristics on the fragments. Part 4 reviews the tags from the Talk boards.
Thank you again for your participation in the project so far. All of this data is incredibly important for providing detailed information for the thousands of the digitized geniza fragments, and ultimately for learning more about the history of the Mediterranean and Islamic world and its Jewish diaspora. We are humbled by your engagement in the sorting process and on the talk boards, and joining a community of #genizascribes.
Our thanks and gratitude to the Scribes of the Cairo Geniza project team: Laurie Allen, Samantha Blikchan, Laura Newman Eckstein, Doug Emery, Emily Esten, Shimon Fogel, Mitch Fraas, Will Granger, Arthur Kiron, Moshe Lavee, Vered Raziel Kretzmer Eve Krakowski, William Noel, Shaun A. Noordin, Becky Rother, Marina Rustow.
Special thanks and credit to Elizabeth Bates, Dr. Jean Bauer, Hal Blackburn, Taieb Cherif, Jessica Dummer, Timothy Dungate, Scott Enderle, Dr. Jessica Goldberg, Yonatan Gutenmacher, Rebecca Hill, Amey Hutchins, Dr. David Kraemer, Dr. Nita Krevans, Kate Lynch, Gayatri B. Oruganti, Dr. Ben Outhwaite, Dr. Craig Perry, Besan Radwan, Raha Rafii, Dr. Sinai Rusinek, Dr. Judith Olszowy-Schlanger, Jasmine Shinohara, Dr. Smadar Shtuhl, Emma Stanford, Einat Tamir, Kelly Tuttle, Mostafa Younesie, and Dr. Oded Zinger for their contributions. Additionally, thank you to the following institutions for providing supplementary images for this project: The Berlin State Library, The British Library, and The National Library of Israel.