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June 18, 2019

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New digital tool devised to identify old etchings

Confused by pictographic inscriptions on ancient objects like vessels and bronze wares? An intelligent computer system might be the solution.

Local researchers have developed an intelligent literature-identification system to recognize inscriptions on ancient bronze objects from the Shang and Zhou dynasties (1600 BC-256 BC).

Conducting deep processing of literature documents of the two dynasties, the digital system identified and interpreted the characters on vessels, rubbings and bronze wares.

Encoding the original ancient patterns and graphics and matching them with authentic characters which have been uploaded into the lexicon, the new system transforms the inscriptions or rubbings into accurate characters, said Liu Zhiji, a professor with the Center for the Study and Application of Chinese Characters of East China Normal University.

The system can provide help for identification of cultural relics by recognizing the characters on the image of vessels and decorations, as well as inherit cultural resources, said Liu.

The current character and literature-identification tools can only recognize characters but the intelligent system can tell the ancient characters’ origin and the medium on which they are written, can transform pictographs into characters and understand context.

Over 170,000 ancient characters have been uploaded into the system’s lexicon, said Liu.

The researchers will develop a smartphone application of the system and the images can be processed directly by the app after taking a photo.

They plan to develop a similar system to recognize oracle bone inscriptions later this year.


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