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Researcher Using Artificial Intelligence To Assemble Fragments Of Ancient Texts

maximus otter

Recovering policeman
Aug 9, 2001
A researcher at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, Germany, is using artificial intelligence to fill in gaps in ancient texts.

The researcher, Enrique Jiménez, Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Literatures at the Institute of Assyriology, has led a team that is digitizing every surviving Babylonian cuneiform tablet. Since 2018, the team has processed up to 22,000 fragments of text.


Original Akkadian Tablet XI (the "Deluge Tablet") of the Epic of Gilgamesh

The team constructed an unprecedented database called the Fragmentarium that uses automation to piece together text fragments.

Thousands of fragments were photographed by the team in cooperation with the Iraq Museum and the British Museum.

The researchers are training an algorithm to put together pieces of text that are out of context. It has so far successfully pieced together hundreds of manuscripts.

The algorithm identified a fragment from 130 BC belonging to a tablet of the Epic of Gilgamesh last November. Notably, the tablet is thousands of years newer than the oldest known version of the Epic of Gilgamesh.

Jiménez plans to publish the Fragmentarium, along with a digital version of the Epic of Gilgamesh—the first containing all transcriptions of cuneiform fragments that are currently known—this month.


maximus otter