"Lost" Languages to Be Resurrected by Computers?
New program can translate ancient Biblical script.
Created by a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the program automatically translates written Ugaritic, which consists of dots and wedge-shaped stylus marks on clay tablets. The script was last used around 1200 B.C. in western Syria.
Written examples of this "lost language" were discovered by archaeologists excavating the port city of Ugarit in the late 1920s. It took until 1932 for language specialists to decode the writing. Since then, the script has helped shed light on ancient Israelite culture and Biblical texts.
(Related: "Oldest Hebrew Text Is Evidence for Bible Stories?")
Using no more computing power than that of a high-end laptop, the new program compared symbol and