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Science Technology

Computer Reveals Stone Tablet "Handwriting" 42

ewenc writes "A computer technique can tell the difference between ancient Greek inscriptions created by different artisans, a feat that ordinarily consumes years of human scholarship, reports New Scientist. A team of Greek computer scientists created the program after a scholar challenged them to attribute 24 inscriptions to their rightful cutter. The researchers scanned the tablets and constructed an average shape for several Greek letters in every tablet. After comparing the average letters between different tablets, they correctly attributed the inscriptions to six stone-cutters."
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Computer Reveals Stone Tablet "Handwriting"

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  • by mbone ( 558574 ) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @02:44PM (#28561821)

    3-D would be an obvious add-on here - the depth of the cut stone incision should reveal a lot
    about the force being used, and I would expect that to be a distinguishing characteristic.

  • by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <> on Thursday July 02, 2009 @02:50PM (#28561935) Homepage

    As someone who majored in Classics as an undergraduate (before moving on to linguistics), I've gotten a lot of flack in technology nerd circles like Slashdot for spending time in such a field. Nowadays the value of study of the ancient world is seen as offering limited benefits, and the popular image of a classicist is of a bookish loser all alone in his musty, unvisited department. I think that's a pity especially because Classics is a field very ready to use new technology to help us better understand the past. The Oxyrynchus papyri, for example, a bunch of old papers found in an Egyptian garbage dump, have been scanned with state of the art cameras which have revealed whole new texts, including lost works by some of the great classic authors.

    So spending time with old inscriptions can still seem a worthy task to the Slashdot crowd. Beyond just using whizbang new technology, the decipherment of the Rosetta Stone for example (see e.g. Parkinson's Cracking Codes [] ) ought to fascinate the more mathematically oriented of us.

  • by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @03:05PM (#28562173)
    Seems to me that it is impossible to verify that the machine analysis is correct, only that it matches the analysis done by a trained human. Proving correct attribution would require either a signature on each piece or the testimony of the original artisans.

Machines that have broken down will work perfectly when the repairman arrives.