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DeepMind AI tool helps historians restore ancient texts

The Register: “AI software can help historians interpret and date ancient texts by reconstructing works destroyed over time, according to a new paper published in Nature. A team of computer scientists and experts in classical studies led by DeepMind and Ca’ Foscari University of Venice trained a transformer-based neural network to restore inscriptions written in ancient Greek between 7th century BC and 5th century AD. The model, named “Ithaca” after the home of legendary Greek king Odysseus, can also estimate when the text was written and where it might have originated. By recovering fragments of text on broken pieces of pottery or blurry scripts, for example, researchers can begin translating them and learn more about ancient civilizations. Thea Sommerschield, co-author of the paper and an epigrapher of ancient Greek and Roman, told The Register in a joint statement with co-author and DeepMind scientist Yannis Assael that inscriptions are vital records. Everything from religious calendars to laws and leases can be preserved…”

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