Using Digital Humanities Tools (Palladio, Stanford) for the Persian Medical MS at Lane Medical Library, Stanford University Medical Center

Palladio is a very useful DH tool developed at Stanford University. You can read more about it here

I have been using DH tools and Palladio in particular to map some of the Persian Medical Manuscripts at Lane Medical Library, SUMC. There are around 30 MS but in this case I have used the metadata from only 18 texts. I was interested in a mapping and graphing a few categories across these texts; besides important descriptive information (call numbers, titles), I added these categories:

Place of Copy (with proper GIS coordinates; mostly Persianate cities)

Script (nastaliq, taliq, ruqu’ah, shikasta, and Indian nastaliq)

Date of Origin (between 1100 and 1880 CE)

Date of Copy (between 1300 and 1880 CE)

Subject (mostly medicine; some natural history)

Dedicatee (kings, patrons, doctors, European patrons)


Palladio provided some very interesting results where the metadata from these items could be mapped and graphed.[I also made a Google Maps of the MS; see below, Feb 17] I am interested in a larger research question: how do scripts change across space and time in this small collection? how can the creation (original) and copying (extant copy) be mapped in terms of time? what can be said about the relationships between particular cities (Isfahan, Delhi, etc.) and scripts (Nastaliq, Ruquah)?


Palladio does not allow for a direct link to the user interface; meaning that I cannot provide direct access to the maps, tables, and graphs that I see after I input the metadata. But here I have added some screen-grabs from Palladio:

Sizes of Points indicate number of MS from each point (city)

Sizes of Points indicate number of MS from each point (city)


1. The image above  indicates simply the cities in which the MS originate (but were not necessarily copied). From West to East, you can see Diyarbakir, Tehran, Isfahan (the second largest point), Herat, above that Bukhara, Delhi (the largest point in size), Malda, and then below it Kolkata. Most of the Persian Medical MS, then, originate in Delhi.


Tracing dates of origin of MS between 1100 and 1500 CE

Tracing dates of origin of MS between 1100 and 1500 CE


2. The image above traces the cities of origin of each MS (where it was originally written) between the years 1100 and 1500 CE. You can see that Isfahan, Herat, and then Delhi are only cities which have produced items before 1500 in the Lane Medical Library Persian MS collection.


Cities of Origin 1500 to 1850 CE

Cities of Origin 1500 to 1850 CE


3. The Image above traces the cities of origin of the MS originating between 1500 and 1850 CE.  From West to East, Isfahan, Bukhara, Delhi, Malda, and Kolkata are the cities traced.

Relation of Scripts to Places

Relation of Scripts to Places


4. An important question the the popularity of scripts across time and space. Here we see that the Ruquah, Shikasta, and Indian Nastaliq scripts predominate in the MS from India (Delhi). Nastaliq cannot be ignored, as it is ubiquitous and very popular across time and space. The Iranian MS have a strong preference for Nastaliq script; this graph displays the entire MS collection.


More complex research questions can be asked of this material and I intend to make use of other aspects of Palladio in the future.



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