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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

A Life in Translation

A Life in Translation

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Monday, March 11, 2019/Categories: video, art and design, adventure

                           Gregory Heyworth Ancient Text Translation Lab (credit: University of Mississippi)

Knowledge can be passed down orally, visually, or by the written word. It is easily lost if not translated or shared and "book burning" has a long and sad history, particularly during conflicts and invasions. The Library of Alexandria was destroyed over multiple invasions of the Egyptian city and perhaps represented the greatest loss of knowledge from Greco-Roman times that ever existed. However, its loss was not the only case of loosing ancient information.

Can new technologies help recover ancient knowledge? That's the life's work of translators like Gregory Heyworth who deciphers rediscovered ancient texts. Heyworth directs The Lazarus Project at the University of Mississippi, a digital imaging project where unreadable papyri scroll fragments, faded documents, and texts are restored.

Likewise, efforts are underway at England's Oxford University to translate ancient documents discovered in a desert garbage dump. They had been covered by dry sand for nearly 2000 years near the Egyptian city of Oxyrhynchus. The project is called the Oxyrhynchus Project, where the cache was located in the late 19th Century. The trove of documents had been protected by the hyper-dry desert conditions but exist as fragments of ancient papyri (scrolls). Thousands of fragments were discovered, retrieved, and now made available for translating via a crowd-sourced project.

Who knows? It is a big job but perhaps lost pieces of Greek literature including lost chapters from Homer, Herodotus, or other authors of the ancient world will reemerge from the fragments.



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