The AI Historian: A New Tool to Decipher Ancient Texts

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The origins of ancient inscriptions are often shrouded in mystery. Writing carved into stone millennia ago can be hard to read and is often missing entire sections of the text. Now a neural network ‘Ithaca’, trained on thousands of existing inscriptions, could help historians figure out when and where a piece of writing comes from – as well as fill in missing words and characters.

Ithaca alone achieves 62% accuracy when restoring damaged texts, the use of Ithaca by historians improved their accuracy from 25% to 72%, confirming the synergistic effect of this research tool.

Ithaca can attribute inscriptions to their original location with an accuracy of 71% and can date them to less than 30 years of their ground-truth ranges, redating key texts of Classical Athens and contributing to topical debates in ancient history. More here.