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  

A classifier network of Sumerian, based on the ePSD2 database.  

Data collected by Bo Zhang in iClassifier.

Selz, Gebhard. 2021. “Appositive semantic classification in Sumerian Cuneiform and the implementation of iClassifier.Ash-sharq: Bulletin of the Ancient Near East 6, 142–171.

Blue lines link classifiers and lemmas (=words) they occur with. 

Red lines link classifiers that co-occur with a host lemma. 

A classifier network of dissemblance graphémique in the Old Kingdom   

Created by Dr. Simon Thuault in iClassifier

A classifier network of lexical borrowings from Semitic in New Kingdom texts

Created by Haleli Harel in iClassifier

To appear in: 

Harel, Haleli, Orly Goldwasser and Dmitry Nikolaev. In press. ‘Mapping the ancient Egyptian mind: Introducing iClassifier, a new platform for systematic analysis of classifiers in Egyptian and beyond.’ In Ancient Egypt and New Technology: The Present and Future of Computer Visualization, Virtual Reality and other Digital Humanities in Egyptology. Edited by J. A. Roberson, R. Lucarelli  and S. Vinson. Leiden: Brill. 


And in Harel, Haleli. Forthcoming. A Network of Lexical Borrowings in Egyptian Texts of the New Kingdom: Organizing Knowledge according to the Classifier System. Doctoral dissertation. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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A macro map of classifier categories of lexical borrowings in Egyptian texts of the New Kingdom. 

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.

We digitize classifiers in scripts and languages
using the iClassifier digital research platform