The famous Herculaneum scroll, charred papyrus found buried by the Mount Vesuvius eruption in 79AD, has been deciphered by artificial intelligence.
The feat was achieved by students in the Vesuvius challenge, which used algorithms to scan the artifact that would otherwise had been destroyed if unraveled by human hands.
The winning team read more than 2,000 'never-before-seen' texts that discussed sources of pleasure, such as music, the taste of capers and the color purple.
The three students, from Egypt, Switzerland and the US, share a $700,000 grand prize for uncovering hundreds of words across more than 15 columns of text, corresponding to around five percent of an entire scroll.
The Vesuvius Challenge was launched in March 2023 by Brent Seales, a computer scientist at the University of Kentucky, and Silicon Valley backers.
At the time, Seales released thousands of 3D images of two rolled-up scrolls, as well as an AI program that had been trained to read letters in the marks left by ink.
Shortly after, Luke Farritor from Nebraska and Youssef Nader from Egypt independently revealed the same word hidden within the heart of the sealed manuscript - 'πορφ?ραc' - meaning purple dye or clothes of purple.