Ancient Egypt goes online with IBM

Pharaoh enough...

Pharaoh enough...

IBM and the Egyptian Government have launched the results of a $3.5m three year, online multimedia project that reveals 5,000 years of Egyptian history.

The Eternal Egypt project has created a centralised digital database of Egyptian historical and cultural resources taken from nine separate Egyptian sites and museums. Much of the technology used on the project, part of IBM’s corporate social responsibility programme, was developed by IBM Research specifically for this task, building on previous philanthropic projects taken up by the company.

The database includes 32 three dimensional, high resolution images of artefacts (of which only a series of pictures are accessible over the website due to file size), around 2,000 two dimensional images, five 360 degree panoramic webcam views of live sites of historical importance in Egypt, plus many reconstructed lost or damaged sites.

Professor Mohamed Saleh, previously director of the Museum of Egyptology in Cairo, one of the sites involved in the project, and director of the Egyptology unit of The Grand Museum of Egypt which is currently under construction, said: “No one else has tried a project of this cultural scope before."

"Now, everyone in the world, wherever they are, can access information about Egypt. This site can show users how ancient Egyptian inventions such as the folding bed and the sundial have influenced the modern day, and explain Egyptian modern day beliefs.”

Users can access Eternal Egypt via the website or over a mobile phone (dg.eternalegypt.org). Also via those mediums, users can access text to speech technology in English, French and, for the first time, Arabic, for guided tours of specific sites in Egypt. To create Arabic speech to text, IBM developed technology to identify Arabic vowel sounds – which are no longer written in the modern language – so artificial intelligence can translate.

The company donated $2.5m worth of software, hardware and services to the project. However, the donation may prove a profitable investment in the future as IBM claims the patented technology that has come out of the Eternal Egypt project may be made commercially available for design, manufacture and ecommerce, although it has no immediate plans to take the technology beyond its test bed projects.