Artificial city

Artificial Intelligence Resurrects Ancient Greek Texts

An artificial intelligence system dubbed ‘Ithaca’ could bring ancient Greek texts to life by filling in gaps, in inscriptions and identifying when and where they came from, reports the Guardian.

The inscriptions were important because they were written directly by ancient peoples and testified to the thought, language, society and history of past civilizations, said Dr Thea Sommerschield, co-author of the research at the ‘Ca ‘Foscari University of Venice and Harvard University.

This inscription (Inscriptiones Graecae, volume 1, edition 3, document 4, side B (IG I3 4B)) records a decree concerning the Acropolis of Athens and dates from 485/4 BC. Marsyas, Epigraphic Museum, WikiMedia CC BY 2.5.

“But most of the surviving inscriptions have been damaged over the centuries. So their texts are now fragmentary or illegible,” she said, adding that they may also have been moved from their original location, while methods such as radiocarbon dating were unusable on materials such as stone.

“Sommerschield and his colleagues tell how they built an AI system they dubbed Ithaca, after the Greek island that was home to the legendary King Odysseus.

“The team fed Ithaca over 63,000 transcribed ancient Greek inscriptions, which allowed them to spot patterns in letter and word order, as well as associations between words and phrases and age and the source of the text.

“The team then tuned the system before exploring whether it could accurately suggest when and where an additional 7,811 listings came from, and offer a selection of letters and words to fill artificially created gaps in the listings, ranked by probability.