Tag Archives: Funding

Neuroscience and Palaeography

Whilst this blog has been dormant for the last few years, work has continued. The outcomes of the fellowship that prompted me to start this research blog  are presented in the following paper: http://www.hrionline.ac.uk/openbook/chapter/dhc2012-tarte, (published in 2014).

In a nutshell, the core of this work consisted in identifying a range of strategies that experts deploy when reading and studying ancient documents. These strategies were identified through ethnographic observations of experts at work; these observations were then tentatively  related to results reported in the cognitive sciences.

Searching for further funding to continue this work, I was recently able to secure funding from the OUP Fell fund to design experiments in order to test the validity of the intuited correspondences between my ethnographic observations and findings from the cognitive sciences literature.

Here are the title and abstract of our project proposal:


Cognitive Underpinnings of Reading Handwritten Scripts: Investigating Variations for Applications in Digital Palaeography (CURHSIVA-DP) 
This interdisciplinary proof-of-concept project brings together research in Classics, in Cognitive Neuroscience, and in the Computer Sciences through the study of ancient cursive handwriting. For Classics, this research aims to understand how various expert strategies are called upon in palaeography, i.e., in the expert study of handwritten letter shapes (beyond the ability to read and understand ancient documents – e.g. papyri -, palaeographical analyses provide insights into the circulation of people, cultures, and ideas) – eventually aiming to facilitate teaching in palaeography. For the Cognitive Neurosciences, this research aims to investigate how cursive scripts are read, thereby complementing knowledge of the processes involved in reading, with the incorporation of handwriting variability (most studies on reading are conducted with printed text) – with possible applications in education. For the Computer Sciences, this research aims to derive a better understanding of which particular aspects of the reading of handwritten scripts can be delegated to computational tools – eventually to investigate ways to develop such tools -, and which are those that are best left to human experts. To that effect, we will undertake studies where participants will be presented with letters and/or words in a script unknown to them. The script of choice will be Demotic, a (mostly) alphabetic form of Ancient Egyptian. These studies will evaluate the role played by knowledge of pure shapes and of the sounds associated with these shapes in the cognitive process of reading words as a combined act of visual perception and attribution of meaning. 

This project is a collaboration between: e-Research Centre (Dr Segolene Tarte, Lead on this project), Classics (Prof Alan Bowman) & Cognitive Neuroscience (Dr Chrystalina Antoniades); we’re further grateful to  Dr Luigi Prada (Egyptology, Oxford) and Dr Rachel Mairs (Classics, Reading) for their support, and to Dr Mihaela Duta, who supports us with the design a development of the experiments (Experimental Psychology, Oxford).
This project seems the perfect opportunity to resume activity on this blog.

Beyond Data Curation: Knowledge Curation

Exciting news came in a couple of weeks ago: the AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) has awarded me a fellowship!

I mentioned this early-career fellowship application in my last post, and well, now I can present to you what I’ll be working on. It’ll be a 9 months project, starting in January and it’ll be concerned with knowledge curation in the context of the development of interpretations of ancient textual artefacts. And this blog was originally started with this very project in mind. I will remain at OeRC, and Prof. Alan Bowman will be my mentor.

Here are the official title and summary:

Digitally Curating Knowledge Creation: Understanding and Recording the Process of Interpreting Cultural and Historical Artefacts

Interpretation and re-interpretation of textual artefacts such as Roman wooden tablets (e.g. the Vindolanda tablets) and cuneiform clay tablets are a core activity for documentary scholars and historians. It is the act of interpretation of these documentary artefacts that gives them a meaning both as a text and as an object, one that can then be shared amongst academics and with the wider public, shedding light on a past history and culture. Interpretation is thus an act of knowledge creation.

Creating this knowledge is a complex and often arduous task that involves elaborate rationales that are strongly influenced by the context in which they are developed. For example, Continue reading Beyond Data Curation: Knowledge Curation

Writing and writing…

On hold
Artwork by Marc Johns (www.marcjohns.com)

Three months I’ve kept you on hold – even if without drab music or  compliments! It’s now high time to resume activities on this blog! It’s not that I’ve been doing nothing though, on the contrary. In those three months, I’ve been mostly writing, writing papers, writing grant proposals and replies to reviews of grant proposals. And exploring new avenues for future research.

It was that time of year again, where, as a staff member of a non teaching department at the University of Oxford, I had to start thinking again of how to maintain myself in employment – and preferably in research. Being of post-doctoral standing in a non-teaching department has both advantages and drawbacks. One advantage is that my daily tasks all revolve around research without ever being overruled by teaching and admin-related responsibilities, the main drawback however is that without teaching duties, it is much much harder to get a permanent contract at the university – and, as a matter of fact, the permanent staff in the department are either of professorial standing, or are lecturers jointly employed by the department and a teaching department, or are part of the research support team. So with the end of my contract lurking in the not so far distance (December), the main focus was on creating my next job. I had some research ideas in store, all of which are connected in one way or another to the main focus of this research blog. Continue reading Writing and writing…