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  • Özge Eda Kaya

Blending Historical Knowledge with Modern Technology: Engineering Historical Memory

Özge Eda Kaya, İstanbul Medeniyet Üniversitesi,

Dr. Andrea Nanetti established and currently directs Engineering Historical Memory (EHM) at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore in 2007. EHM aims to create an open-access data repository for multilingual and cross-cultural studies related to Afro-Eurasian peoples between 1205 and 1533, with the goal of overcoming linguistic and cultural barriers. The project draws inspiration from Antonio Carile's work in the 1960s on the division of the Byzantine Empire following the second conquest of Constantinople and the Fourth Crusade.

EHM is an ongoing research project that promotes international and interdisciplinary collaboration to digitally organize and present historical knowledge. Its primary focus is on understanding pre-modern history of the Afro-Eurasian continent and facilitating cross-cultural interpretations of primary sources and secondary literature. It also aims to enhance accessibility to historical information through the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence.

The project provides access to data from various fields, including world maps (e.g., Fra Mauro map, Genoese map, Mao Kun), travelers' accounts (e.g., Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta, Ma Huan), chronicles (e.g., Venetian diaries, Ming Shi-Lu, Ayutthaya Royal Chronicles, Russian chronicles, The Secret History of the Mongols, Pate Chronicle, Malay Annals), city maps (e.g., Imola Map, one of the oldest surviving modern investigations of a city), archival documents (e.g., X. Gregory, Marco Polo's Documents, Modon and Coron), and archaeological sites (e.g., Modon Castle, Inscriptions of the Seafarers). EHM aims to make historical information more comprehensible by mapping and visualizing these sources.

Let's take a closer look at the Engineering Historical Memory project:

EHM is a system that uses methods from mathematics, linguistics, and other disciplines to analyze primary historical sources and make them machine-readable. By doing so, EHM not only introduces new approaches to strengthening historical sciences but also provides user-friendly tools for researching high-volume data through visualization.

On the EHM homepage, you'll find tabs that allow you to perform searches directly within primary sources, access information about editions of the main source, view a map that visualizes the data from the primary source, and access a Wikipedia-supported information retrieval section.

For example, when you click on any point on the map in the upper left corner, a panel opens below, providing information related to the selected location. This allows you to access information from both the primary source and maps without leaving the page, enriching your reading with the visuals created by EHM.

In short, EHM aims to enhance the field of historical science by merging historical knowledge with the advantages of modern technology. As a result, historians, researchers, and enthusiasts can access information from past periods in a more comprehensive and interactive manner.


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