Cultural evolution of texts
How is cultural knowledge passed down through generations? Which processes promotes the fidelity of transmission of written or oral texts over longer or shorter times? And what are the regularities in the processes of change that they undergo? This project takes a mixed methods approach to analyse how religious and instructional texts are passed down through time. Among the religious texts represented are the ancient liturgies of Zoroastrianism. These originate from oral traditions dating back about 2500 years. The Apophthegmata patrum, collections of sayings of the Christian desert fathers, likewise belong to a tradition of many centuries. These writings have been copied, edited and translated over and over again. Instructional texts are collected from a corpus of cookbooks that span several centuries. By examining how these types of texts change, the research project will contribute to an in-depth understanding of how cultural knowledge develops and is renegotiated over time. The research project brings together researchers with expertise in different types of text traditions with researchers working within computer science and phylogenetic frameworks. This unique collaboration is expected to contribute to the development of new methods for phylogenetic network analysis of linguistic and cultural evolution.