Vesuvius Challenge: Decoding Ancient Scorched Scrolls
A 21-year-old computer science student won a global competition to read the first text in the carbonization scroll in the ancient Roman city of Herculaneum. Herculaneum has been unreadable since the eruption of the volcano in 79 AD, and Pompeii was once buried there. This breakthrough may have found hundreds of texts from the only well-preserved library of Greco-Roman antiquities.
Luke Farrito of the University of Nebraska's Lincoln University has developed a machine learning algorithm that has detected several lines of Greek letters on rolled papyrus, including the meaning of "purple." Farito uses subtle, small-scale differences in surface textures to train his neural network and highlight the parts that mark the ink.
In October 79 AD, Mount Vesuvius erupted, and Herculaneum was buried under volcanic ash 20 meters deep, and hundreds of scrolls were buried in the ground. Early attempts to open the papyrus turned the scrolls into a pile of fragments, and scholars feared that the remaining parts would never be unfolded or read.
Computer scientist Brent Sears, who helped launch the Vesuvius Challenge, and his team spent years developing methods to use X-ray computed tomography to "actually unfold" those fading thin layers and present them as a series of flat images. In 2016, Sears, who works at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, reported that he used the technique to read charred scrolls from Israel's En-Gedi, revealing parts of Leviticus — the Torah of Judaism and the Old Testament of Christianity all written in the third or fourth century AD. But the ink on the En-Gedi scroll contains metal, so it glows brightly during CT scans. The ink on the old scroll of Herculaneum is carbon-based, basically charcoal and water, and when scanned the density is the same as the papyrus on it, so it will not show up at all. This makes scanning and identification quite difficult.
Now, all eyes are on the Vesuvius Challenge. The deadline for the grand prize is Dec. 31, and Sears described the atmosphere as "unbridled optimism." Farito is one of them, having run his model in other parts of the reels and seeing more characters appear. #Personal Knowledge Graph# #人工智能行业应用#