Exploring Medieval Manuscripts Writer Predictability: A Study on Scribe and Letter Identification

Francimaria Nascimento, Stephen Leslie Smith, Márjory Da Costa‑Abreu

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Handwriting communication is a long-established human activity that has survived into the 21st century. Accordingly, research interest in handwritten documents, both historical and modern, is significant. The way we write has changed significantly over the past few centuries. For example, texts of the Middle Ages were often written and copied by anonymous scribes. The writing of each scribe, known as his/her "scribal hand" is unique. It can be differentiated using a variety of consciously and unconsciously produced features. Distinguishing between these different scribal hands is a central focus of the humanities research field known as "paleography." Character recognition within each scribal hand has also posed an interesting challenge. Some issues make these digital processes difficult, such as paper degradation and the soiling of the manuscript page. Thus, in this paper, we propose an investigation in both perspectives, character recognition and writer identification, in medieval manuscripts to better understand the specific behaviour of two 800-year-old scribes based on their manuscripts in comparison with a modern calligrapher. The experiments demonstrated that degradation and tremor can influence the analysis of medieval handwriting documents. However, the results presented an efficient accuracy with a better accuracy rate in letter classification than in writer identification.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages41
JournalDigital Studies / Le champ numérique
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sept 2022

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