To celebrate the anniversary of the discovery of the Rosetta Stone, Google is launching software capable of translating hieroglyphics. This new tool, accessible to all, should facilitate the work of researchers.
Google’s hieroglyphic translator is an artificial intelligence based on machine learning.
This new tool, which responds to the sweet name of Fabricius, should therefore improve over time, as users use it. The feature has been added to Google’s Arts and Culture app, a service that allows you to visit virtually different museums.
Fabricius is currently divided into three separate programs, two of which are designed for the general public: you can immerse yourself in the world of hieroglyphics, learn their origins and train yourself to trace them, before having fun creating conversations in the ancient language from emojis.
Google also offers a space dedicated to experienced researchers or students to help them finalize their project. The tool thus opens up new perspectives for Egyptology.
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As far as translation is concerned, Frabricius is not yet unanimous among researchers. For Dr. Roland Enmarch, Senior Lecturer in Egyptology at the University of Liverpool: “Although impressive, the tool is not yet at the point where it replaces a highly qualified expert in reading ancient inscriptions”, the researcher wishes to point out that one of the biggest obstacles to reading hieroglyphics is that these inscriptions vary enormously according to the different painters and sculptors who have drawn them.
However, as BBC News points out, the software’s Workbench tool is generating enthusiasm. It allows the user to upload photos of real hieroglyphics found on artifacts and digitally improve the images. Researchers will have the opportunity to annotate and retouch discolored symbols to work in better conditions.
“The digitization of textual documents that were previously only in handwritten books will completely revolutionize the way Egyptologists do business,” said Dr. Alex Woods of the Australian Centre for Egyptology. “The digitized and annotated texts could potentially help us reconstruct broken texts on the walls and even uncover texts that we didn’t know existed.”
The tool was created in collaboration with the Australian Centre for Egyptology at Macquarie University, Psycle Interactive, Ubisoft and Egyptologists from around the world.
To find Fabricius, it’s here