All posts tagged: burntup

2,000 new characters from burnt-up ancient Greek scroll deciphered with AI

2,000 new characters from burnt-up ancient Greek scroll deciphered with AI

Damaged ancient papyrus scrolls dating back to the 1st century CE are finally being deciphered by the Vesuvius Challenge contest winners using computer vision and AI machine learning programs. The scrolls were carbonized during the eruption of Italy’s Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE and have been all-but-inaccessible using normal restoration methods, as they have been reduced to a fragile, charred log. Three winners–Luke Farritor (US), Youssef Nader (Egypt), and Julian Schilliger (Switzerland)–will split the $700,000 grand prize after deciphering roughly 2,000 characters making up 15 columns of never-before-seen Greek texts. [Related: AI revealed the colorful first word of an ancient scroll torched by Mount Vesuvius.] In October 2023, Farritor, a 21-year-old Nebraska native and former SpaceX intern won the challenge’s “First Word” contest after developing a machine learning model to parse out the first few characters and form the word Πορφύραc—or porphyras, ancient Greek for “purple.” He then teamed up with Nader and Schlinder to tackle the remaining fragments using their own innovative AI programs. The newly revealed text is an ancient philosopher’s meditation on …