The Modern Technology / Ancient Manuscripts project is committed to the idea that the best way for students to learn about the digital humanities is through their direct involvement in all aspects of the design, implementation, analysis, and use of a cutting-edge, digital humanities tool. The project seeks to build on an already successful, student-centered, digital humanities collaboration of two five-college professors and nine five-college students that began in 2009. The end-product will be a digital tool useful to students and scholars alike in their investigations of ancient manuscripts and the communities that produced them.

This project builds on a collaboration between professors Michael Penn (Mount Holyoke College, Department of Religion) and Nicholas Howe (Smith College, Department of Computer Science), who, in the spring of 2009, began using recent advances in digital handwriting recognition to identify the scribal hands of ancient manuscripts and to uncover relationships between historical documents.

In the coming academic year, this project will mobilize a team of students to build digital tools and analyze ancient manuscripts. The goal is for students to quickly become active participants in the digital humanities and to provide them with an in-depth pedagogical experience. Visit their website at


Below: A lightning talk by Michael Penn on Modern Technology / Ancient Manuscripts from the 5CollDH 2014 Kick-Off Event.

Project Members

Michael Penn
Mount Holyoke College, Religion

Nicholas Howe
Smith College, Computer Science