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Solving Pompeii's Shattered Puzzles with Israeli Robot


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Putting the frescoes back together.

Many vestiges of Pompeii such as mosaics and frescoes have been preserved in their entirety because they were buried under the volcanic ash.

Credit: RePAIR Project

A robot and algorithm developed by computer scientists at Israel's Ben-Gurion University will be used to reassemble 15,000 stones that were part of elaborate frescoes in Pompeii before being destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

The work at Ben-Gurion spurred the creation of the international RePAIR (Reconstructing the Past: Artificial Intelligence and Robots meet Cultural Heritage) project, comprised of computer scientists, roboticists, and archaeologists from Israel, Italy, Germany, and Portugal.

At Pompeii, the first phase of the three-year project involves scanning each stone so a computer can determine its correct position.

However, not all the stones survived or were found, and many are faded.

Said Ben-Gurion's Ohad Ben-Shahar, "Our goal is to let the archaeologist return from the excavation site in the evening, toss all the fragments on the table, and the next morning receive the complete vessel after the robot has put it together overnight."

From Haaretz.com (Israel)
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