About us

The Archaeology of The Mind Lab studies how different cultures, past and present, organize knowledge about the world. Our sources are classifier systems that appear in both written and oral languages around the world. Classifiers, which arrange the lexicon into various emic categories, have never been scrutinized systematically for the study of knowledge organization.

Our research addresses the following topics:

1. Identifying the category that each classifier heads and defining its structure — The central members and the fuzzy-edge members in each category.

2. Getting closer to emic lexical meanings by defining the range of categories to which a lexical item is assigned.

3. Studying multiple classification of a single host, and identifying compatibility patterns and classifier-order patterns.

 4. Assessing classifier centrality in culture — Classifiers that head large categories versus those that head small ones.

5. Metadata searches — Studying classifier assignment by script, time, geography and other variables annotated for each token in the iClassifier database.

6. Researching the longue durée — How do classifier categories emerge and how do they decline?

7. “Classifying the Other,” an analysis of the classification of loanwords — How productive is a classifier system?

8. Studying the lexical, pragmatic and meta-textual usages of classifiers.

9. Studying verb classification, and identifying the semantic relations and comparing them to the argument structure of the studied language.

iClassifier is a digital research platform designed to analyze classifier systems in detail. Through a data-mining process we undertake relational pattern recognition with the aim of identifying governing rules as well as of documenting each language studied. The iClassifier research app is expected to contribute significantly to a greater understanding of classification processes and knowledge maps in each culture’s “mind.” We hope, on the one hand, to point to universal cognitive patterns that are shared by all cultures, and on the other hand, to identify culture-specific patterns in each case study.


Our data model is compatible with the Thot Data Model (TDM, cf. Polis & Razanajao 2016) and our metadata are based on the ‘Thesauri and ontology for documenting Ancient Egyptian Resources (THOT, http://thot.philo.ulg.ac.be).



Classifying the other
The iClassifier app was created in the framework of the research project:  “Classifying the other: The classification of Semitic loanwords in the Egyptian script” (2017-2020)
sponsored by ISF (Israel Science Foundation). 


Recent presentations of the project: 

Halely Harel and Orly Goldwasser. 12/2019. “The classification of borrowed compound proper names in hieratic: A case study by the digital iClassifier.” Talk at: Ägyptologische „Binsen“-Weisheiten IV - Hieratic of the New Kingdom, 11 December 2019.
Harel, Halely. 9/2019. 'Scenarios of verb borrowing from Semitic into Late Egyptian: A sociolinguistic analysis based on the iClassifier database corpora.' 'Sign, Speech, and Society in the Ancient Near East: 100 Years of Ancient Near Eastern Studies in Prague.’ Charles University, Prague. 
Harel, Halely. 8/2019. '‘..and they all made a BRT’:  Semitic Loanwords in New Kingdom texts as cultural goods.' Talk to be given at the International Congress for Young Egyptologists,  21-24 August 2019, Leiden University.
​ISF founded international workshop "iClassifier: A new digital tool for the analysis of classifier scripts and languages." July 1-4, 2019. Maiersdorf room 501, Mount Scopus, Jerusalem. ​
Harel, Halely. 7/2019. ‘A study on verb borrowing integration in the BRiT list of Semitic loanwords in Ancient Egyptian- The case of šrm ‘to greet; to seek peace’ and ʿšq ‘to extort’, at: The 7th International Graduate Student Conference on Diverse Approaches to Linguistics (IGDAL 7), April 8th, 2019, Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
Goldwasser, Orly, Halely Harel and Dmitry Nikolaev. 4/2019. ‘iClassifier – A digital tool for systematic classifier analysis of classifier languages and scripts.’ In: ‘Noun categorization: from grammar to communicative interaction.’ Lyon (DDL research center) – April 18–19, 2019.
Goldwasser, Orly, Halely Harel and Dmitry Nikolaev. 3/2019. 'Mapping the ancient Egyptian mind: Introducing iClassifier, a new platform for  systematic analysis of classifiers in Egyptian and beyond’, at: ‘Ancient Egypt and New Technology: The Present and Future of Computer Visualization, Virtual Reality and other Digital Humanities in Egyptology.’ 29-30 March 2019 at Indiana University, Bloomington. (Paper to be published in proceedings, Harvard Egyptological Studies series.)
Harel, Halely. 2018.  "How Does Language Portray Culture Contact? Semitic Loanwords in Second Intermediate Period and New Kingdom Egypt",(Poster), in: 'Crossroads III – A Stranger in the House', Prague, September 10-13, 2018. 
Harel, Halely. 2017. Tracking Variation in Orthography: The Case of Loanwords in Ancient Egyptian (Poster), in: manuSciences‘17 French German Summer School organized by the BAM, CSMC and EPHE/PSL.

For information regarding past projects dealing with classifier studies led by Prof. Orly Goldwasser,