‘Carabela: probabilistic indexing of manuscript collections for the protection of underwater historic heritage’

Grants for research teams

Digital Humanities

2017

The goal is to apply techniques that allow textual and large-scale searches in manuscripts from the 15th to 16th Centuries containing key information for locating thousands of shipwrecks from that period.

DIRECTOR

Enrique Vidal Ruiz, Universidad Politécnica de Valencia

 

RESEARCH TEAM

Francisco Casacuberta Nolla, José Miguel Benedí Ruiz and Moisés Pastor Gadea, Universidad Politécnica de Valencia; Carmen García Rivera, Carlos Alonso Villalobos and Lourdes Márquez Carmona, Instituto Andaluz del Patrimonio Histórico.

COLLABORATING INSTITUTIONS

Universidad Politécnica de Valencia

 

DESCRIPTION

The goal is to apply techniques that allow textual and large-scale searches in manuscripts from the 15th to 16th Centuries containing key information for locating thousands of shipwrecks from that period.

The project will focus on 150,000 images from collections of interest to underwater archaeology belonging to the Archivo General de Indias and the Archivo Histórico Provincial de Cádiz. These are manuscripts related to Spanish expeditions and naval commerce during the 15th to 19th Centuries on which OCR techniques (designed for printed text) and specific techniques for handwritten material (which produce imprecise results when applied to historical texts) do not work.

The team has developed automatic learning methods that enable the probabilistic indexing of images of handwritten text suitable for approximated but effective contextual searches in large-scale collections of historic documents.

This will allow the effective extraction of valuable information on shipwrecks constituting archaeological heritage of the highest level due to the great historical and cultural value of their content. This information will be classified according to its ‘risk level’ so as to avoid the plundering of underwater heritage.