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The Archaeology of the Mind Lab
Prof. Orly Goldwasser

The Archaeology of the Mind Lab studies how different cultures, past and present, organize knowledge about the world.

Ancient Egyptian
Ancient Chinese

classifier networks 


© Goldwasser/Harel/Nikolaev


Mindmapping of ancient cultures  


Current research project:  


Exploring the minds of Ancient Egypt and Ancient China —A comparative network analysis of the classifier systems of the scripts

ISF grant no.1704/22, 

PI Prof. Orly Goldwasser, 

co-investigator, Prof. Zev Handel

Participating researchers:

Dr. Haleli Harel

Yanru Xu, Ph.D. candidate

The evolution of Egyptian hieroglyphic classifiers resembles the evolution of birds’ wings. Feathers were initially for thermal insulation and display; only later did they begin assisting with flight. Analogously, classifiers served limited functions at first—reference tracking and disambiguation—but evolved over time to serve new functions. Without feathers, birds could not have developed the ability to fly. Similarly, classifiers opened the door to complex categorization, priming the mental lexicon of the reader. Wings allow birds to fly high and survey vast landscapes; classifiers enable us to observe the landscape of the Ancient Egyptian mind.

Current research in the lab

A classifier network of ancient Chinese,
in a corpus of Guodian bamboo manuscripts 

Data collected by Yanru Xu in iClassifier.

To be published in: 

 Xu, Yanru. 2024. "Semantic classifiers in Guodian bamboo manuscripts:
Reconstructing categories in the ancient Chinese mind." Journal of Chinese Writing Sy

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