This interdisciplinary Digital Humanities project analyzes Ottoman “nature” (flora, fauna, landscapes) in travelogues on the Ottoman empire, printed between 1501 and 1850. The leading questions are what role representations of nature played in the reports, whether and, if so, why differences occurred in diachronic and synchronic perspectives and how the texts and images related to each other. This analysis aims to shed new light on transnational environmental and natural history.

ONiT started in 2022 and will last until 2025. Historians, Ottomanists, Computer and Library Scientists from the Institute for Habsburg and Balkan Studies (IHB) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW), the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT), the Austrian National Library (ÖNB) in Vienna, the Paris Lodron University of Salzburg, and the Marmara University in Istanbul work closely together. The project team creates a multilingual corpus (German, English, French, and Latin) of around 2,000 travel reports and a smaller sub-corpus of Arabic, Ottoman, and Persian accounts. The focus is on the holdings of the Austrian National Library, which are supplemented by collections from other institutions around the world.

The project team develops an innovative workflow for the extraction and analysis of texts and images. ONiT is the first project to analyze Ottoman “nature” in a large corpus of travelogues, systematically collecting and classifying related texts, images, and maps and analyzing their relationship to one another using novel tools, some of which use machine learning. We hereby build on the results of our previous Travelogues-project. Digital documents, computer-generated data, and digital tools created as part of the project will be made freely accessible. ONiT is also looking for new ways to integrate the project’s results into the information systems of the ÖNB.

The project is funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF: P 35245). The Visual Geometry Group (VGG) at the University of Oxford and the Portapp project at the Herzog August Library in Wolfenbüttel act as cooperation partners.

Primary researchers involved

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Arno Strohmeyer, project leader, historian
Dr. Doris Gruber, PI, historian and art historian
Jacopo Jandl, MA, data librarian
Dr. Rainer Simon, computer scientist
Mag. Michela Vignoli, PhD candidate in Digital Humanities
Assoc.-Prof. Dr. Güllü Yıldız, scholar of Islamic history and arts


Univ.-Prof. Dr. Arno Strohmeyer (leader)

Dr. Doris Gruber

Project term



Austrian Science Fund (FWF): project number P 35245