AI-ncient Pottery: Northern Arizona University Researchers Use Machine Learning to Study Distant Cultures


The additional sophisticated fashionable systems turn out to be, the much more they can help us fully grasp the earlier.

Chris Downum and Leszek Pawlowicz, scientists in the Division of Anthropology at Northern Arizona University, are making use of GPU-primarily based deep learning algorithms to categorize sherds — tiny fragments of ancient pottery.

They spoke with NVIDIA AI Podcast host Noah Kravitz about examining sherds to master a lot more about American Southwest lifestyle, circa 825 to 1300 A.D.

Critical Factors From This Episode:

  • For practically a century, archaeologists have closely examined sherds to determine their time intervals and cultural affiliations. Having said that, human interpretations of the identical sherd usually differ — pushed by ambiguity, mere discrepancies in view and a absence of familiarity with the tens of millions of pottery typologies that exist. Downum and Pawlowicz use equipment finding out to aid scientists and students much more objectively classify these historic pottery fragments.
  • Neural networks, experienced on huge graphic datasets of sherds that had been classified in settlement with professional archaeologists, determine a sherd’s typology. Results are exhibited with “heat maps” which spotlight sections of the sherd that the AI design discovered most crucial to its characterization.


“These machine understanding methods basically instruct them selves the significant style and design parameters that are linked with each [sherd] kind.” — Leszek Pawlowicz [5:22]

Equipment understanding “adds a ton of objectivity and reliability to the approach of classifying elaborate artifacts.” — Chris Downum [18:43]

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