Computational Reading of Classical Arabic Sources: The Case of Biographical Collections

Maxim Romanov

Postdoctoral Associate at the Department of Classics & Perseus Project at Tufts University

Over the past decade a great number of classical Arabic sources became available as fully searchable texts. The volume of existing digital libraries now exceeds 800 mln. words. Although this makes traditional research more efficient, the volume of this corpus demands for new methods. Using the most recent digital methods of text analysis, the paper presents an analysis of about 29,000 biographies from “The History of Islam” (Taʾrīkh al-islām) compiled by the Damascene historian al-Dhahabī (d. 1348 CE), and offers a glimpse into how the Islamic society was changing during the first 700 years of its history.Maxim Romanov holds a PhD in Near Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan. His research combines experimental digital humanities methods and the study of classical Arabic sources.

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