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published: March 2004
The Digital Hammurabi Project, originating at The Johns Hopkins University, is a multi-disciplinary effort aimed at addressing the two major technological obstacles to greater productivity in cuneiform research - the lack of a standard computer encoding for cuneiform text and the current inadequate state of the graphic representation of cuneiform tablets.
Building on an initial 3-year, $1.6 million grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation, the goals of the project are to:
1) design and produce a portable, very high resolution, very fast, 3D surface scanner for cuneiform tablets;
2) develop new computer algorithms to manipulate and render gigabyte-size virtual tablets in real-time over the Internet;
3) coordinate a formal proposal to the Unicode Consortium for a standard Sumero/Akkadian cuneiform computer encoding;
4) collaborate in the development of international XML standards for 3D data, cuneiform bibliography, and cuneiform text markup;
5) establish a petabyte-scale digital library and museum of virtual 3D cuneiform tablets;
6) invent a completely new technology - automated 3D character recognition of cuneiform writing.
The 16-member Hopkins team is made up of faculty, staff, and students drawn from several divisions of the university, including the Department of Near Eastern Studies, the Applied Physics Laboratory, the Department of Computer Science, and the Sheridan Libraries.