STUDYING THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY SOUTH SLAVIC SCRIBES AND SCRIPTORIA THROUGH MODERN IT TOOLS
The 14th century was a period of incredible cultural development throughout the Balkan Peninsula, clearly expressed in the lands of the southern Slavs. In particular, with the establishment of the Bulgarian and Serbian kingdoms, as they called their states, the foundation was laid for a great cultural and political rise, clearly reflected in the progress and scale of their literary production. This progress was directly reflected in all areas of social life and was a key factor in the advancement of the peoples of these lands.
The study of the writing of our predecessors of that time is a long-standing goal of modern researchers of Slavic languages. Collecting data from primary medieval written sources, determining the origin, defining and systematizing the manuscripts preserved in various repositories in terms of their paleographic features are serious research tasks. It requires joint research activities of different specialists on a significant amount of new literary material, part of which is currently stored in manuscript repositories of libraries located in Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Russia, Ukraine, Romania and on Mt Athos, as well as in the monastery of Sinai and in different libraries in Western Europe. These activities are greatly facilitated when modern IT solutions assist with efficient data access and analysis. The current research work presented in this paper aims to create a powerful IT tool for the study and research of handwriting, copyist and writing in general. It provides the means to structure, process, manage, visualize and analyse this data, greatly facilitating the research and study processes. Each written resource is digitized and described according to a descriptive model based on the metadata available for it. Once entered into the digital repertoire, it is discoverable through various context-based search and intelligent curation services. Tools are provided for detailed examination and exploration of each letter and its element, similarity discovery between pairs of manuscripts - letter spellings and their elements, tools to support the collaborative concurrent work of researchers in the system, and management of the data description and structuring process.
The goal is to reach and effectively exploit the vast amounts of knowledge about the digitized written heritage with providing tools for higher adaptability and effective interaction between the researcher and the digital repertoire.