INTRODUCING THE VIRTUAL ROSETTA STONE: FABRICIUS
On July 15th 2020, the 221st anniversary of the Rosetta Stone’s discovery, Google launched their new tool on the Google Arts and Culture app. Fabricius was developed by Ubisoft, Psycle Interactive, and the Australian Centre for Egyptology at Macquarie University, and offers three different ways for users to interact with hieroglyphs: Work, Learn, and Play.
“Learn, write and decode ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics through the power of machine learning,” Google announces, “by sharing coded Hieroglyphic messages to unlock the mysteries of the Pharaohs.”
During an online unveiling of the app, Head of Preservation at Google Arts and Culture, Chance Coughenour, said “Fabricius began with an experimental idea: could today’s tech be used to help decode languages?” The app, however, does not operate in the same way as Google Translate, which is used to convert modern languages. “It is a step forward in the process,” Coughenour said. “Fabricius doesn’t do automatic translation, but rather it is a tool that helps experts translate the hieroglyphs more efficiently.”
Let’s look at the specifics of the three features:
Work: This is the desktop-only version of the app that allows researchers and academics to process hieroglyphic images before sequencing and identifying them.
Learn: This feature is excellent for people who may have taken an interest in Egyptology, whether after watching Night At The Museum or taking a trip to Cairo, allowing them to begin learning about hieroglyphs and how to decode them, all in six steps.
Play: This feature is perfect for amateurs who want to become familiar with hieroglyphs without taking them too seriously, allowing them to write coded messages in hieroglyphic form and send them to friends.
Fabricius seems to be for everyone, as while the Play section informs that “the easiest way to understand hieroglyphs is to imagine that they are the ancient Egyptian equivalent of emojis”, the AI’s machine learning aspect ensures that the tool will only become faster and more accurate over time, saving experts hours of having to cross-reference scripts.
Are you interested in Egyptology? Do you want to send secret coded messages to your friends? Give Fabricius a go! Try not to activate any ancient curses while you’re at it.
What do you think about Fabricius?
Let us know in the comments below!