On the anniversary of the Rosetta Stone, Google launches a tool to translate hieroglyphs with AI


Egyptian hieroglyphs have fascinated generations of scholars and admirers of art and history, but for centuries it was a completely unknown language, until the Rosetta Stone was found. On its anniversary, Google has introduced Fabricius, an artificial intelligence tool for translating hieroglyphs and other ancient languages.

Egyptian hieroglyphs were used more than 4,000 ago as a ceremonial language, which is why they appear in the pyramids and tombs of the ancient Egyptians. But only a few knew how to write it. Its use was lost, and for centuries no one knew how to interpret it . It was not even known if they were letters, or simple drawings that represented something. 

On July 15, 1799, the Napoleonic troops found the Rosetta Stone , an Egyptian stele where a decree was engraved in the name of Pharaoh Ptolemy V, in 196 BC. The key to this stone is that the same text was written in three Languages : Hieroglyphics, Demotic Script, and Greek. You can see it here in three dimensions (tap to manipulate it), or in real size if you have virtual reality glasses:

Thanks to this simultaneous translation, the French Jean-François Champollion, in 1822, managed to fully  translate the Egyptian hieroglyphs , thus solving one of the greatest enigmas in history.

Even knowing its translation, it is not easy to read or write hieroglyphs. Google Arts & Culture , with the help of the Australian Egyptology Center  at Macquarie University , Psycle Interactive, Ubisoft and Egyptologists around the world, has developed Fabricius , an artificial intelligence tool that is used to translate hieroglyphs , or write in this language.

Fabricius is made up of three parts. On the one hand there is the Learn mode , where he explains in six interactive steps the basic concepts to understand how hieroglyphs work.

The mode Play allows you to experiment with language, translating words and messages that can be shared with friends. For example we can see how common words are translated (in English), and even emojis.

The Job mode  is the most important and serious. It is intended for academics and is made up of a series of tools based on artificial intelligence, in open source, that learn to decipher the meaning of the more than a thousand existing hieroglyphs.

Unfortunately it is only available in English and Arabic but if you want to try, access the Fabricius website from here

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