The oldest known language in the world to this day is called Akkadian. It was written in the same way as other ancient languages, such as Sumerian, that is, it used cuneiform. With the help of new artificial intelligence, scientists have been able to translate the language directly into English.
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According to records, this language was spoken in the Mesopotamian region, about 5 thousand years ago. The area is the same as where there is a record of the oldest organized civilization on the planet. The language was also used in the Near East, between 3000 BC and 100 AD.
The AI starts translating the ancient language
Akkadian was inscribed on clay tablets, and there are hundreds of thousands of pieces containing ancient texts. They talk about the history, politics, society, science and economy of the region at that time. However, only a few tablets were translated until then. There is a lack of knowledgeable people to do the job, because the texts are fragmentary.
However, artificial intelligence developed at Tel Aviv University in Israel has been shown to be able to facilitate the process. In translation into Latin, the technique has proven to be 97% accurate.
When tested by translating the text into English, the AI ended up producing some errors, or just “hallucinating”. However, it did well in snippets of up to 118 characters and in more formal content.
Archaeologists believe that some kind of human-AI collaboration could be the key to successful transcription. In this case, the AI will do the first translation. After that, scientists come to refine, check and improve what has been achieved.
Thus, it will soon be possible to better understand the first moments of the history of civilization. Archaeologists hope to understand what people said, what their interests were and key data relevant to that time.
“Hardcore beer fanatic. Falls down a lot. Professional coffee fan. Music ninja.”