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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.

Special issue of the Journal of Chinese Writing Systems, Classifiers in Ancient Scripts.  
Edited by Orly Goldwasser and Zev Handel (2024)

Including an introduction by the editors and three articles presenting the Egyptian, Sumerian, and Chinese classifier systems, followed by an article showcasing the methodology carried out by the iClassifier tool. 

Gebhard J. Selz and Bo Zhang.
“Classification in Sumerian Cuneiform.”

Yanru Xu. 
"Semantic classifiers in Guodian bamboo manuscripts: Reconstructing categories in the ancient Chinese mind." 

Orly Goldwasser and Susana Soler.
“Semantic Classifiers and Categorization in the Ancient Egyptian Writing System: Rules, List of Classifiers, and Studies by iClassifier on the ‘Story of Sinuhe.” 


Haleli Harel, Orly Goldwasser & Dmitry Nikolaev.  iClassifier: A Digital Research Tool for Corpus-based Classifier Networks.”

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Ancient Egyptian
Ancient Chinese
Anatolian Hieroglyphs

classifier networks 


© Goldwasser/Harel/Nikolaev


Mindmapping of ancient cultures  

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 Sumerian, based on the ePSD2 database.  
Prof. Dr. Gebhard J. Selz.  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.​​​


Selz, Gebhard J. and Bo Zhang. 2024. “Classification in Sumerian Cuneiform.”  Special issue of the Journal of Chinese Writing Systems, Classifiers in Ancient Scripts. 

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