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'Handwriting' recognition offers accurate way for dating stone tablets

Vlad Savov

Archaeology 101 will tell you that accurately dating an object is critical to understanding its meaning and value. When it comes to stone carvings, this typically requires a researcher with plenty of energy, time and skill, but scientists at the National Technical University of Athens have now developed a computer algorithm that promises to revolutionize the entire process. By overlaying digital scans of known inscribers' work, the Greek team are able to recognize stylistic idiosyncrasies and thereby identify the author of a carving. Their accuracy was confirmed by a recent test, in which they attributed proper authorship of 24 stone tablets, picking out the correct chiseler each time. Next step: seeking royalty payments for the works of your great uncle Xanthos.

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