Automated Compositional Change Detection in Saxo Grammaticus Gesta Danorum

Kristoffer Laigaard Nielbo, Mads Linnet Perner, Christian Larsen, Jonas Nielsen, Ditte Laursen

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Saxo Grammaticus’ medieval source Gesta Danorum (“Deeds of the Danes”) representsthe beginning of the modern historical research in Denmark. The bipartite composition of Gesta Danorum has however been subject to much academic debate. In particular the nature and location of a transition between early Pre-Christian and late Christian content have given rise to two competing accounts. In this paper, we argue that the debate can be represented as
a problem of intratextual dynamics and we combine models from Information Retrieval and Natural Language Processing with techniques for time series analysis in order to reevaluate the debate. Results indicate that the transition is gradual, starting in book eight and ending in book ten, but that a point-like interpretation is possible in book nine. We argue that the approach exemplifies scalable“automated close reading”, which has multiple applications in text-based
historical research.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date6 Mar 2019
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 6 Mar 2019
EventDigital Humanities in the Nordic Countries: 4th Conference - University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 6 Mar 20198 Mar 2019


ConferenceDigital Humanities in the Nordic Countries
LocationUniversity of Copenhagen
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