For the past twenty years I’ve been busy with software, hardware, and network technology, but I haven’t circled back around to working on interests I had from my younger years – like archaeology – in any way. Until now.
I’ve had an interest in ancient Egypt, the pyramids, and hieroglyphics ever since I was a young child. My father’s books on the subject absolutely captivated me. I’d spend hours drawing plans for pyramids with elaborate booby traps to protect the contents, along with escape tunnels to protect the workers from a bad demise.
In college I majored in Computer Science and took numerous electives on ancient cultures, history, art, and archaeology. Once I discovered that the “Indiana Jones” style of archaeology didn’t really exist, I decided to forgo further archaeology classes, but I told myself that one day I’d apply my computer science skills to help out in some way with archaeology.
Flash forward twenty plus years and an idea and opportunity arise that I can’t pass up. In March of 2018 I was sick with an ongoing flu/cold like I’ve never had before. As a result of that ailment, I stayed home for several weeks while I recovered. I’ve been collecting old first-edition and out-of-print books – most of which are about history or archaeology – for the past few years and reading some of those books sparked an idea that lead to the COTA project’s formation.
I realized that with today’s technology – particularly recent advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and image analysis – it was possible to decode photographs of Egyptian Hieroglyphics (or other languages for that matter). So I did what any motivated developer would do and I architected the system that would make that happen.
As of now, the system is nearly one third complete. A team is coming together next month to being work on the final phases of the system. My hope is that a working system can be developed by the end of summer 2018. Time and people aren’t free, and funding isn’t readily available for concept projects like this, so I’m funding the team and this project using profits from my company. It’s a worthy project and one that I feel drawn to support with all my effort.
The potential benefits of a system that can automatically decode ancient languages are immense. There are thousands of documents, manuscripts, monuments, and glyphs around the world that have yet to be translated. Revealing their messages to the world can have enormous impacts on our understanding of our history and culture. I feel truly honored to have the opportunity to participate in something like this. It’s an honor of a lifetime and potentially a story for the ages.