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AI used by researchers to read word on an ancient scroll burned by Vesuvius
When the blast from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius reached Herculaneum in AD79, it burned hundreds of ancient scrolls to a crisp in the library of a luxury villa and buried the Roman town in ash and pumice.
The disaster appeared to have destroyed the scrolls for good, but nearly 2,000 years later researchers have extracted the first word from one of the texts, using artificial intelligence to peer deep inside the delicate, charred remains.
The discovery was announced on Thursday by Prof Brent Seales, a computer scientist at the University of Kentucky, and others who launched the Vesuvius challenge in March to accelerate the reading of the texts. Backed by Silicon Valley investors, the challenge offers cash prizes to researchers who extract legible words from the carbonised scrolls.
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