Every month new resources, archives, and databases for historians of the Middle East are coming online. Zachary Foster introduces us to the most important ones.
The Google Ngram Viewer is a free tool that allows anyone to make queries about diachronic word usage in several languages based on Google Books’ large corpus of linguistic data. In this article, we explain the potential use of n-grams for historians, offer suggestions about the kinds of questions they can answer, and point to the importance of digitization and developing character recognition software for non-European languages.
How Digitization has Transformed Manuscript Research: New Methods for Early Modern Islamic Intellectual History: The mass digitization of manuscripts is blurring the long held boundaries between manuscript libraries and archives and altering the act of research in the process. Scholars often view the changes that digitization entails in a negative light as the physical document is increasingly removed from the hands of the researcher. Here, though, I would like to take a different approach and explore the true possibilities provided by digitization as scholars are able to ask new questions, discover unknown texts, and gain a different understanding of intellectual life in the early modern Islamic world in particular. My belief is that a fundamental shift has occurred now that researchers can view twenty, fifty, or even one hundred manuscripts a day rather than two to three. In what follows, I examine some of the techniques we can use and the insights we can gain when given the opportunity to look at thousands of manuscripts during a research period.