20 November 2023
Photo: Orna Almogi
20 November, 2023.
We are happy to announce that the ERC has awarded a Synergy
grant to Orna Almogi, Harunaga Isaacson, and Dorji Wangchuk
from the Universität Hamburg (UHH) and Shai Fine from the
Reichman University (RUNI) in Israel for the project
“INTELLEXUS – Geology of Texts, Genealogy of Concepts,
Intellectual Ecosystems: Mapping the Indic and Tibetic
Buddhist Text Corpora.” A total sum of 9,902,166 Euro has
been awarded (approximately 7 million Euro to UHH and 3
million Euro to RUNI) for the six-year period April 1st, 2024
– March 31, 2030.
India and Tibet have both been home to great Buddhist
cultures, producing a vast quantity of learned literature in
respectively Sanskrit and Tibetan. In recent years, a flood
of such texts has become available, also in digital form.
Specialists have long studied Sanskrit and Tibetan Buddhist
texts with painstaking philological-historical methods.
Now, inspired by the profusion of materials that has become
available, and recent advances in computer sciences
(Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing in
particular), a team of experienced textual scholars in
Hamburg has joined forces with specialists in computer
sciences from Reichman University in Israel, to carry out an
innovative project which aims to develop cutting-edge
computational tools to revolutionize the study of this
material. Chief among these are the automatic identification
and matching of concepts, both mono- and cross-lingually,
tasks that go far beyond the matching of texts.
In addition to developing computational models and tools,
which have the potential to bring about a transformation also
in the study of similar materials from other cultures, the
project will map three large Buddhist text corpora in
Sanskrit and Tibetan, shedding light on their
interdependence, their interactions also with other,
non-Buddhist, texts, and the processes of their
The INTELLEXUS team will comprise four groups, working in
close synergetic collaboration. A group focusing on Sanskrit
and on textual history (geology of texts) will be led by
Harunaga Isaacson; a group focusing on canonical Tibetan and
on the history of ideas (genealogy of concepts) will be led
by Dorji Wangchuk; a group focusing on paracanonical Tibetan
and on history of textual culture (intellectual ecosystems)
will be led by Orna Almogi; and a computer science group will
be led by Shai Fine, with Kfir Bar supervising NLP research
and development efforts.