Judaica DH at the Penn Libraries Blog //Update: Launching Phase 2 of Scribes of the Cairo Geniza
Blog //Update: Launching Phase 2 of Scribes of the Cairo Geniza

Penn Libraries announces the launch of Phase 2 of “Scribes of the Cairo Geniza,” an innovative digital humanities collaboration that brings the Cairo Geniza to a mass audience online.

Sorting Cairo Geniza fragments began on August 8, 2017 with approximately 30,000 fragments. This means that each subject (a front and back of an image of a fragment) had to be classified (meaning a series of questions had to be answered) 5 times, each time by a different sorter, before a subject was retired (complete). As of February 9, 2019 our #genizascribes completed sorting these fragments and more, over 10% of the entire Cairo Geniza! We are amazed, humbled, and energized by the participation. In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing some of the data produced in this first phase.

We are officially launching Phase 2 of the Scribes of the Cairo Geniza project this week.

  1. New images

We have added over 15,000fragments from the John Rylands Library at the University of Manchester to Zooniverse for sorting. We are also working to form partnerships with more library collections to add more geniza fragments to the project. Calendar (A 397– 1). The University of Manchester Library.

  1. Transcription

In phase 1, volunteers sorted fragments into Hebrew or Arabic, and then identified if the text was formal or informal. In phase 2, we are looking for volunteers to transcribe fragments! We’re launching 2 tracks: Easy Hebrew and Easy Arabic.

The talented team at Zooniverse built a custom interface for transcribing these fragments that provides multiple keyboards and markups for this unique project. We’ve worked to design an interface that allows someone with no experience with or expertise in these languages to transcribe a fragment from the Cairo Geniza.

While the transcription interface and additional components are complicated because of the complexities of the Geniza corpus itself as well as a trilingual interface (Modern Arabic, Hebrew, and English), we are looking forward to seeing how the #genizascribes run with the new tools in the transcription tasks. See the custom transcription interface in action. GIF by Laura Newman Eckstein.

  1. Multilingual Interface

Because so many of our volunteers are native speakers in Hebrew (מחיי הגניזה הקהירית)and Arabic (كتبة جنيزا القاهرة), we’ve provided translations of project instructions for those two languages. You can switch between these translations in the menu bar at the upper right corner of the screen. Screenshot of the Scribes of the Cairo Geniza menu bar — Arabic, English, and Hebrew interfaces available.

These translations are in beta, and we welcome users to try out these instructions to bring to the attention of the @researchers any issues or suggestions.

How Can You Help?

Sort Images! — With this new batch of images, we hope to introduce more people to the project. Try your hand at identifying Hebrew or Arabic.

Transcribe! — We need all hands on deck. We’re especially looking for volunteers who read Hebrew and Arabic script to assist with this phase, as well as answer transcription/translation questions on our talk boards.

Talk! — Join us on the talk boards, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to share what you’re learning. If you have questions while transcribing a fragment, tag us on the talk boards at @researchers and one of our experts will be in touch. And of course, we’re always looking for feedback to help improve your Zooniverse experience.


The University of Pennsylvania Libraries is partnering with the Princeton Geniza Lab, the e-Lijah Lab and the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research of the Cairo Genizah at the University of Haifa, the Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Genizah Research Unit at Cambridge University Library, the University of Manchester Library, and the Bodleian Libraries at The University of Oxford to bring the Cairo Geniza to The Zooniverse community.

By Judaica DH at the Penn Libraries on .

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Exported from Medium on April 14, 2020.

Cite this post: admin. “Update: Launching Phase 2 of Scribes of the Cairo Geniza”. Published March 04, 2019. https://judaicadh.github.io//blog/2019-03-04-update-phase-2/. Accessed on .