Google and Ubisoft's New Hieroglyphic Translator Could Help Solve Ancient Mysteries

You can even turn emojis into hieroglyphics.
Utku Kucukduner
The photo credit line may appear like thisGudella/iStock edited with Fabricius

Ubisoft Hieroglyphs Initiative teamed up with Google's Arts and Culture in 2017 and set to launch a hieroglyph translator at the British Museum previously. In July 2020, they posted an important update on the project.

The project aimed to explore the possibility of using machine learning algorithms to translate the logographs of Ancient Egypt. The main contributors of the project include Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Brown and Harvard Universities, Université du Québec à Montréal, Macquarie University, along with countless Egyptologists around the globe.

Ubisoft says "We started this project as a way of saying thank you to all the academics that had helped us make Assassin’s Creed Origins so realistic, and for assisting us in developing the hugely popular Discovery Tour." The Discovery Tour is a mod that's been implemented after a flood of requests coming from academics and lecturers around the world, suggesting Ubisoft that they could add interactive, informative tours into the game. 

The first deciphered hieroglyph dates back to Dynasty II, which reigned roughly between 2800BCE to 2650BCE. After the abolishment of Pagan temples around the 5th century BCE, what we knew about hieroglyphs slowly disappeared. That is until it was deciphered in the 1820s with the help of the Rosetta Stone.

The software

The Fabricius software, which you can access here, allows users to upload images of hieroglyphs and matches them with different possible interpretations that span across centuries on its database.

While you can indeed use the app for lighthearted purposes (such as emoji to hieroglyph translation, seriously go check it out), Dr. Alex Woods from the Australian Centre for Egyptology also notes, "Digitising textual material that was up until now only in handwritten books will completely revolutionize how Egyptologists do business"

Google and Ubisoft's New Hieroglyphic Translator Could Help Solve Ancient Mysteries
Source: Fabricius

With this app, we can expect more data to be deciphered at a much quicker pace. Google hopes that with the contributions from people around the world, they can extend their database for a more capable app with their AutoML

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