Ancient documents go digital at Duke

Posted July 30, 2013 4:59 p.m. EDT
Updated July 30, 2013 6:47 p.m. EDT

— One university in the Triangle is revealing new insight into what it was like to live in ancient times.

Duke University professor Josh Sosin said papyrus fragments offer a glimpse into the everyday lives of people who lived thousands of years ago.

“They put us in touch with real life in a way that no other source from antiquity does,” he said.

Ancient documents are meeting the digital age at Duke University, where researchers are creating a kind of Wikipedia to translate what those documents say.

Duke was the first university to digitize its collection of 1,500 papyrus fragments.

Sosin is leading the charge to let people translate them online.

“It can take weeks for a single scholar to translate just one fragment,” Sosin said. “Unleashing brain power from all over the world will speed up that process. We have tools that allow anyone to edit unedited texts. Not just anyone - you have to know a bit of Greek.”