Google launches tool to help discover ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs

To celebrate the discovery of the Rosetta Stone, Google has launched Fabricius. © Courtesy of Google

Two hundred and twenty-one years ago today, the Rosetta Stone was discovered; to celebrate this anniversary, Google has launched a tool to help people discover ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs for themselves.

In 1799, the Rosetta Stone was discovered, allowing historians to finally understand and make sense of the now millenia-old hieroglyphic language from ancient Egypt — which consists of about 1,000 unique characters — which had puzzled them for years.

Now, thanks to this stone, which was originally created in 196BC and is now housed in the British Museum, modern society can read the stories of the Egyptians who used this language for 4000 years.

To help non-historians discover this writing system and to celebrate the Rosetta Stone’s discovery anniversary, Google announced on Wednesday a new Arts & Culture tool called Fabricius, which gives users a trio of ways to learn about hieroglyphs — a creation made in collaboration with the Australian Centre for Egyptology at Macquarie University, Psycle Interactive, Ubisoft and Egyptologists worldwide.

This experience begins with an education introduction which is followed by an activity where users can “‘Play’ and translate their own words and messages into hieroglyphics ready to be shared with friends and family.

Finally, Fabricius offers an open source digital tool that uses machine learning to decode hieroglyphs. Developers can use the tech behind this creation, AutoML Vision, to train machines to identify all sorts of objects.

Fabricius is available currently in English and Arabic, and is complemented by the existing educational resources about Egypt currently available from Google Arts & Culture.