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Tencent Unveils AI Platform to Decode Ancient Oracle Bones, Advancing Chinese Archaeology Research

Tencent launches AI platform to decode inscriptions on China's ancient oracle bones. Oracle Bones Corpus utilises AI tools to assist researchers in translating ancient writings. The platform aims to gather digitised versions of oracle bones and create an index of characters for faster search.

These oracle bones, known as "jia gu wen," are the oldest form of writing in China, dating back approximately 3,600 years.


The platform, called Oracle Bones Corpus, utilises AI tools to assist in the translation of these ancient writings. By comparing the inscriptions with thousands of indexed images, researchers can more efficiently decode the texts. Tencent believes that AI significantly improves the efficiency and accuracy of character recognition, which has been a major challenge in studying oracle bones.


Zhan Shu, the head of the digital culture lab at Tencent's Sustainable Social Value Organization, expressed excitement about the platform, stating, "With Oracle Bones Corpus, we have established a platform for all the stakeholders in oracle bones research to work together towards a common goal. We look forward to seeing more oracle bones digitised and invite researchers and anthropology enthusiasts to decipher the secrets of these ancient texts."


This initiative by Tencent showcases the company's commitment to applying advanced technologies beyond online entertainment. The platform aims to gather various digitised versions of oracle bones, including photos, three-dimensional models, Chinese ink rubbings, and AI-enhanced replicas. By creating an index of characters, the platform also speeds up the search process for researchers.


One notable feature of the platform is the "indentation highlight," which enhances the visualisation of the oracle bones. This feature allows researchers to observe sharper details, including shallow carvings, on the bones.


The inscriptions found on oracle bones provide valuable insights into early Chinese civilisation and the evolution of the country's language. Thousands of years ago, people used characters carved on tortoise shells and animal bones for divination. So far, approximately 4,500 unique characters have been discovered from the 16,000 oracle bones unearthed in China and other locations worldwide. However, only 1,500 of these characters have been successfully identified and matched with modern Chinese characters.


Tencent's efforts in the field of oracle bones research are not the first of their kind. Microsoft collaborated with Chinese university researchers through its Project Diviner, which utilised AI to curate and restore inscriptions on oracle bones. Additionally, Tencent previously partnered with China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism to use AI and virtual reality technologies to restore decades-old video recordings of traditional Chinese operas.


In line with its commitment to education, Tencent has also developed an educational mini program on its super app WeChat for users interested in learning about oracle bones.

 
  • Tencent launches AI platform to decode inscriptions on China's ancient oracle bones

  • Oracle Bones Corpus utilises AI tools to assist researchers in translating ancient writings

  • The platform aims to gather digitised versions of oracle bones and create an index of characters for faster search


Source: SCMP

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