SigiScript. Semi-automated processing of epigraphic data of seals

Hablot Laurent

SIGILLA is a consortium of French institutions of research (EPHE, CESCM, IRHT,
CRAHAM, CRULH) and conservation (SIAF, AN) carried out by the EPHE and the
SAPRAT. For three years, it has been involved in digital cataloging and uploading
of seals preserved in France – the SIGILLA database – and is already collaborating
with nearly fifty Archives in France and abroad. Among the numerous data
supplied by this source – historical, diplomatic, iconographic, heraldic – the vast
corpus of inscriptions contained in the legend of the seal or its field (hundreds
of thousands of occurrences) is still under-studied as it delivers to researchers a
considerable amount of exposed writings and testimonies of documentary
practices, perfectly dated and staged in precise contexts quite well known.
In addition to the other dedicated SIGILLA developments, specifically on heraldic
data, the SIGISCRIPT project proposes to develop a set of numerical tools for the
processing of the epigraphic data of the seal around three functionalities:
– automated data entry support: identification and recognition of characters on
the medium, suggestion of automatic completion (missing letters) and
development of abbreviations, superposition of the versions between the
prototype and the printed wax seal studied, automatic translation.
– an interoperable classification of the data: identification and cataloging of
information, diplomatic (formulas, titles), historical (place and person names),
epigraphic (epigraphic and palaeographic features, text / image relationship).
– a structured restitution of the information on the site: development of a search
engine dedicated to the front office of the site allowing cross searches in the
epigraphic module.
The scientific interest of the project is multiple. In addition to enhancing as much
as possible the written of the seal, which has so far not been the subject of any
scientific monograph, these tools must open up new ways of research that are
as yet unpublished as the analysis of engraving workshops, the influence of the
legend of the seal in the definition of power, etc.

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