Feature-extraction methods for historical manuscript dating based on writing style development

Maruf A. Dhali*, Camilo Nathan Jansen, Jan Willem De Wit, Lambert Schomaker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
160 Downloads (Pure)


Paleographers and philologists perform significant research in finding the dates of ancient manuscripts to understand the historical contexts. To estimate these dates, the traditional process of using classical paleography is subjective, tedious, and often time-consuming. An automatic system based on pattern recognition techniques that infers these dates would be a valuable tool for scholars. In this study, the development of handwriting styles over time in the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of ancient manuscripts, is used to create a model that predicts the date of a query manuscript. In order to extract the handwriting styles, several dedicated feature-extraction techniques have been explored. Additionally,
a self-organizing time map is used as a codebook. Support vector regression is used to estimate a date based on the feature vector of a manuscript. The date estimation from grapheme-based technique outperforms other feature-extraction techniques in identifying the chronological style development of handwriting in this study of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-420
Number of pages8
JournalPattern Recognition Letters
Publication statusPublished - 1-Mar-2020


  • document analysis
  • image-based document dating
  • Dead Sea Scrolls
  • radio-carbon dating
  • allograph maps

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