Translated Cuneiform Scripts

Building a framework for semantic search on translated cuneiform scripts

Affiliation: TU Darmstadt

External PartnerAltorientalische Philologie, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

Financial Support by the Funding Agency : Dec 2015 – Nov 2017

Project Staff

Project Description

The goal of this project is to enable semantic search in translations of cuneiform documents. These translations can currently only be explored manually by search of lemmata on the original language or by keyword search. Our goal is to make the translations, and thus, the original texts, more accessible by adding another layer of information, which will allow interested researchers to apply smarter search queries and deeper exploration of the collection. In particular, we propose to apply sophisticated lexical-semantic methods based on modern Natural Language Processing technology to German and English translations of cuneiform documents. Thereby, our focus will be on a corpus of Hittite documents and their translations; however we also test our methods on other cuneiform documents and their translations.

A distinguishing feature of the proposed project is the use of state-of-the-art language technology, in particular multilingual linked lexical-semantic resources, to support novel research on extinct languages with very few speakers, thus making this cultural treasure accessible to a wide audience.


Associated Software Products


  • Sukhareva, Maria, Fuscagni, Francesco, Daxenberger, Johannes, Görke, Susanne, Prechel, Doris, & Gurevych, Iryna: Distantly Supervised POS Tagging of Low-Resource Languages under Extreme Data Sparsity. The Case of Hittite. In: LaTeCH-CLfL ’17 Proceedings of the 11th Workshop on Language Technology for Cultural Heritage, Social Sciences, and Humanities, 95–104, 2017.
  • Daxenberger, Johannes; Görke, Susanne; Siahdohoni, Darjush; Gurevych, Iryna and Prechel, Doris  Semantische Suche in Ausgestorbenen Sprachen: Eine Fallstudie für das Hethitische. In: Proceedings of the DHd 2017, 196-200, 2017.
  • Siahdohoni, Darjush: A User Interface for Semantic Search on Translations of Cuneiform Documents. Bachelor Thesis. Technische Universität Darmstadt, 2016.
  • Stelzer, Lasse: Enriching Translations of Cuneiform Documents by Linkification. On-going Bachelor thesis. 2016

Further Information

A demo system of the semantic search engine for Hittite and Akkadian texts can be found here. The results of a further project which demonstrates the linking of Hittite and Akkadian text with external knowledge resources can be found here. The texts on which this project is based can largely be found in the Hethitologie Portal Mainz.