Text from ancient scrolls deciphered through use of AI

It is rather difficult to overstate the potential ramifications this technology has for our understanding of human history. The technical details of how this feat was accomplished are fascinating, but I found the following passage to be most striking (emphasis mine):

Farritor, a SpaceX summer intern, decided to train his own machine learning model on those crackle patterns, improving his model with each new pattern found. The model eventually revealed the word “πορφυρας” meaning “purple dye” or “cloths of purple,” a word that rarely shows up in ancient texts. “When I saw the first image, I was shocked,” Federica Nicolardi, a papyrologist at the University of Naples in Italy who was among those who reviewed the findings, told Nature. “It was such a dream. I can actually see something from the inside of a scroll.”


I’m going to hope they find a scroll with part of John’s Gospel or perhaps Mark’s.


Thank you for the story on this interesting venture. It’s an excellent use of machine learning algorithms. It seems to me that this research may be of great benefit to the field of archaeology in general.


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