This week, on the anniversary of the discovery of the Rosetta Stone in 1799, Google has presented a new tool that emulates the ancient Egyptian stele in its function. Fabricius’s mission, as it is called, is unravel the mysteries of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.
This digital Rosetta stone, framed within the Google Arts & Culture Lab Experiment initiative, makes the writing system used by the ancient Egyptians more than 4,000 years ago accessible to all to record their history, although only a few knew how to write and read it.
Fabricius brings us closer to the world of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics through learning, play, and academic research
Fabricius, a translator of Egyptian hieroglyphs
Fabricius allows us to get closer to the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs through three interesting avenues: learning, play, and academic inquiry.
In order to learn the Ancient Egyptian writing system, becoming familiar with it, this Google tool offers us a brief educational introduction that shows us how these mythical hieroglyphs work in six easy steps.
“The easiest way to understand hieroglyphs is to imagine that they are the ancient Egyptian equivalent of ’emojis'”
The game consists of translating and writing our own messages as if we were ancient Egyptians. And they give us a premise to internalize its operation: “The easiest way to understand hieroglyphs is to imagine that they are the ancient Egyptian equivalent of the emojis“There is no translation to everything we are going to write, so we have to use our imagination and try to adapt our message to the vocabulary, to call it in some way, available.
Finally, Fabricius serves researchers. As explained from Google, this project includes the first digital application – which is also being launched as open source to support advances in the study of ancient languages - that decodes Egyptian hieroglyphics built on machine learning. Specifically, it works using Google Cloud’s AutoML technology, AutoML Vision, used to create a machine learning model that is capable of making sense of what a hieroglyph is.
Fabricius, by the way, is named after the father of epigraphy, Georg Fabricius. The tool is available in English and Arabic.