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MIT Computer Deciphers Ugaritic, an Ancient Semitic Language


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a tablet with ugaritic scriptThe big brains at MIT aren't just interested in solar cells, robot desk lamps and gesture interfaces; they're also applying their evolved understanding of tech to decipher ancient languages. The team of Regina Barzilay, an associate professor in MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, have created a computer program that successfully deciphered a chunk of Ugaritic, a dead Semitic script dating to the 14th and 12th centuries BCE in what is now Syria.

An important evolutionary transition from older cuneiform scripts, Ugaritic is an abjad -- an alphabet of consonants which requires the reader to supply the vowels. The first re-discovery of the language occurred in 1928, but took years to translate, whereas the software developed by Barzilay and company needed only a matter of hours to decipher the script.

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SwitchedMIT Computer Deciphers Ugaritic, an Ancient Semitic Language originally appeared on Switched on Thu, 22 Jul 2010 18:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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