Antwerp Time Machine

Currently, research teams from the University of Antwerp are at the forefront of both Urban History, Digital Humanities and Computer Linguistics & robotica.

Since 2011, the GIStorical Antwerp project is reconstructing five centuries of urban development at the level of individual houses and households. From the 16th century until today, we can now delve into the exceptional Antwerp sources and library collections to reconstruct the livelihoods of individual merchants, shopkeepers, craftsmen and labourers. Maybe for the first time in historical research, it becomes possible to really visualize and virtually walk among those generations past, and into their houses we see on thousands of paintings, pictures and postcards. Digital Humanities on the other hand breaths again live and sound in this landscape of history, by opening up a universe of well-preserved, and ever more meticulously analyzed textual sources, which informs us on the lived experience of these people.

Nowadays, efforts of geo-spatialization, digitization and data-integration are still costly, time-consuming and fragmented. Several technologies – such as automated transcription of handwritten sources and A.I. enhanced deep-learning methods – are still in an experimental stage. The European Time Machine Bid – a Future and Emerging Technologies Flagship - aims to finally realize the technological breakthrough needed to enter the world of the ‘Big Data of the Past’. It guarantees the technological advance of urbanized Europe in a field where its assets are unmatched: cultural heritage.

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