Thursday, September 03, 2009

Computers and Ancient Language

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Two new articles show how computers can potentially assist in paleography and linguistics:

The first follows an Israeli acheivement which could potentially create a "Google-like search engine" for corpora of manuscripts and which could also be used to match fragments dispersed across modern collections. Those of us who have spent time with such manuscripts will realize the limitations to such technology.

The second involves a lost language from the Indus valley. A mega-civilization there may have predated the great societies of the Ancient Middle East. Mathematicians have used algorithms to discover regular patterns in the surviving cuneiform-like texts; hopefully, these discoveries will lead to the unraveling of the language, its texts and the history of this lost civilization.

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