Google’s DeepMind team has developed a deep neural network that can restore the missing text of damaged ancient inscriptions, identify their original location, and help establish the date they were created. The AI model is called Ithaca, named after the Greek island in Homer’s Odyssey, and their current evaluations show that it achieves 62% accuracy in restoring damaged texts, 71% accuracy in identifying their original location, and can even date texts to within 30 years of their ground-truth date ranges. Read more for a video and additional information.
To make this AI model possible, Ithaca had to be trained on the largest digital dataset of Greek inscriptions from the Packard Humanities Institute using both words and the individual characters as inputs. It utilizes a self-attention mechanism at the model’s core to evaluates these two inputs simulatenously, allowing Ithaca to evaluate inscriptions as needed, or fill in the blanks if you will.
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We believe this is just the start for tools like Ithaca and the potential for collaboration between machine learning and the humanities. Ancient Greece plays an instrumental role in our understanding of the Mediterranean world, but it’s still only one part of a vast global picture of civilizations,” said the DeepMind team.