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July 21st, 2010
10:57 AM ET

Simple computer program decodes lost biblical language

From our partner Mother Nature Network:

A project led by professor Regina Barzilay of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology may be the first to show how ancient, lost or unknown languages can be decoded using a computer program, according to National Geographic.

The MIT team was able to decode the "lost language" of Ugaritic, an ancient Semitic language used in Old Testament times, using no more computing power than that of a laptop. The program took no longer than a few hours to link most Ugaritic symbols to their Hebrew equivalents.

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- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Culture & Science

soundoff (113 Responses)
  1. Grace Rodriguez

    my sister is a computer programmer and she earns lots of buxx from it::`

    October 1, 2010 at 12:00 pm |
  2. Bradley

    Still cannot get how cuneiform works. Learn bout it in J High School.

    July 25, 2010 at 10:47 am |
  3. David

    Hopefully they have some texts in this ancient language and it can it can corroborate that YHWH was once subordinate to El or Elohim and that they are not the same person. The doctoring of these has been so extreme that it is a wonder that monotheists attempt to quote any of it

    July 22, 2010 at 12:15 am |
  4. Reality

    Ugarit is important because of its association with the Canaanite script and literature. You remember the Caananites. They occupied Palestine taking over for the local Neanderthals when they disappeared due to evolution and/or intermarriage. Said Caananites of course the rightful owners of today's Palestine.

    July 21, 2010 at 9:11 pm |
  5. Reality

    More on the topic:

    Ugarit is of the utmost importance to research into the development of the Canaanite script and literature, for in addition to the Akkadian documents and Horite dictionaries, documents written in a special script have been found there. This is an alphabetic, cuneiform and consonant script, belonging to the Canaanite family but closer to biblical Hebrew. The most important literature in it consists of epic songs in which the deeds of gods and heroes are praised. There is much in common, both in language and in content, between these epics and the biblical literature.

    July 21, 2010 at 9:08 pm |
  6. Reality

    Ugarit (the language spoke by the topic people) was an ancient town in northern Syria whose remains have been identified at Ras Shamra. It was a key point on the route leading from Mesopotamia to Crete and it was by this route that elements of the Mesopotamian culture reached the Mediterranean islands.

    Ugarit is of the utmost importance to research into the development of the Canaanite script and literature, for in addition to the Akkadian documents and Horite dictionaries, documents written in a special script have been found there. This is an alphabetic, cuneiform and consonant script, belonging to the Canaanite family but closer to biblical Hebrew. The most important literature in it consists of epic songs in which the deeds of gods and heroes are praised. There is much in common, both in language and in content, between these epics and the biblical literature.

    July 21, 2010 at 9:07 pm |
  7. Reality

    Why the Ugarit language might be important to "mythians":

    An ancient town in northern Syria whose remains have been identified at Ras Shamra. It was a key point on the route leading from Mesopotamia to Crete and it was by this route that elements of the Mesopotamian culture reached the Mediterranean islands.

    Ugarit is of the utmost importance to research into the development of the Canaanite script and literature, for in addition to the Akkadian documents and Horite dictionaries, documents written in a special script have been found there. This is an alphabetic, cuneiform and consonant script, belonging to the Canaanite family but closer to biblical Hebrew. The most important literature in it consists of epic songs in which the deeds of gods and heroes are praised. There is much in common, both in language and in content, between these epics and the biblical literature.

    July 21, 2010 at 9:06 pm |
  8. Peter F

    That's fascinating!

    July 21, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
  9. wowlfie

    I wish all the bibles in the world were converted to digital format and encryped with an unbreakable code. Then I would throw the key away.......

    July 21, 2010 at 5:54 pm |
  10. Reality

    Check out Ugarit on answers.com. It appears the moderators will be deleting my previous commentaries about the town as I received two of the dreaded "your comments await moderation" 😦

    July 21, 2010 at 5:46 pm |
    • peace2all

      @Reality.... Hey Reality...... I have 'so' been there with the moderators of this blog and the dreaded deleting of so many of my postings, that I lost count.

      And yes....the 'your comments await modertaion'....... Had that one way more than any human should have to bear...

      Good luck ...

      Peace...

      July 21, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
  11. randallinnb

    Can I borrow that computer? I have a doctors note in my pcket.

    July 21, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  12. freepalestine

    they spoke yiddish with manhattan accent.

    July 21, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
  13. ekricket

    Perhaps this can be used to reverse engineer a new language, or code? Develop something that makes literal sense, and can be easily used by people who don't speak a common language to communicate with each other? Esperanto was an attempt, but maybe something like this could develop something successful?

    July 21, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.