Inscriptions were important as they were written directly by ancient people and were evidence of the thought, language, society and history of past civilisations said Dr Thea Sommerschield, a co-author of the research at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and Harvard University.
“But most surviving inscriptions have been damaged over the centuries. So their texts are now fragmentary or illegible,” she said, adding that they may also have been moved from their original location, while methods such as radiocarbon dating were unusable on materials such as stone.
‘The team fed Ithaca more than 63,000 transcribed ancient Greek inscriptions, enabling it to pick out patterns in the order of letters and words, as well as associations between words and phrases and the age and provenance of the text.
‘The team then tuned the system before exploring whether it could accurately suggest when and where another 7,811 inscriptions were from, and propose a selection of letters and words to fill in artificially created gaps in the inscriptions, ranked by probability.’