What are our aims?
A major challenge for historians is how they may identify, with confidence, the plants and other materials cited in early medicinal recipes. Clearly it is not sufficient to rely on a translation of the plant's common name given that these vary so much in their meaning both geographically and over time.
Our project aims to design a method to increase the precision with which plants cited in ancient texts maybe identified and to provide some measure of confidence in each of those identifications. Starting with an important historical herbal from Cyprus, we will list all possible candidate species for every plant mentioned in the text. We will then analyse what we know about those plants with information taken both from historical texts and from botanical, ecological and ethno-botanical sources available today. We will capture information of any kind: morphology, use, trade, ecology etc. and then use these comparisons to assign likelihoods to each possible identification.