Nederlands | English

KNAW awarded Huygens ING proposal

The KNAW has awarded the Digital Forensics proposal written by Huygens ING and IISG, collaborating with Leiden University and Microsoft.

The proposal ‘Digital Forensics for Historical Documents. Cracking Cold Cases with New Technology’ aims at developing a deep learning system that will enable scientist to determine when, where and by whom historical handwritten texts were created. With this aim, we shall break new ground in the field of Digital Humanities, but also open up paths for new cutting-edge research in historical and literary research.

Paleographical methods

Two cases will be used to develop the system and explore the possibilities. In the first case researchers will work with handwritten material from the period of the VOC to analyse and identify individual hands (who wrote what?), using graphanalytical methods. This will be executed by Matthias van Rossum, Charles van den Heuvel and Sebastiaan Derks with a yet to be appointed programmer and data-analyst. The second case will focus on the development of a new way of analyzing medieval script (what was written when and where?), using paleographical methods. Rutger van Koert, Mariken Teeuwen and Erik Kwakkel will work together with a yet to be appointed PhD student.

The discipline of forensic handwriting analysis (known as graphanalysis) has been developed to establish the unique profile of each individual. Script and handwriting analysis are used in historical research, where knowing which scribe worked on what manuscript can be extremely valuable in understanding the history and meaning of a certain object.


The project will start in Spring or Summer 2018. These people are involved: Mariken Teeuwen, Rutger van Koert, Charles van den Heuvel, Sebastiaan Derks, Jan Burgers, Gertjan Filarski (all Huygens ING), Matthias van Rossum (IISH) and Erik Kwakkel (Leiden University). A PhD student, a software engineer and a data-analist will be appointed. Engineers of Microsoft and H.J. van den Herik of the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS) offer advice and support.