World-class cultural heritage lab will come up at University of Kentucky

Heritage is an inseparable part of our lives and heritage science helps us better understand our heritage while also allowing us to improve our technology and science for conservation.

A new $14 million infrastructure grant from the National Science Foundation has been granted to the University of Kentucky that will go a long way into exploring and developing groundbreaking ways through the lens of heritage science.

“We are at a turning point,” Brent Seales, UK Alumni Professor in the Department of Computer Science, said. “Science and technology present a host of exciting opportunities to the heritage sector. They must not be wasted.”

Scientists at the university have been working to create and use high-tech, non-invasive tools to rescue hidden texts and restore them to humanity. Using the new grant, scientists will be building EduceLab — UK’s vision for next-generation heritage science. The collaborative facility will focus on developing innovative artificial intelligence (AI) solutions for the unique challenges presented by cultural heritage objects.

Heritage science draws on engineering, the humanities and the sciences to enhance the understanding of our past, inform the present and guide our future. Ultimately, the goal is to enrich people’s lives and celebrate both the commonality and diversity of the human experience.

“The word Educe means ‘to bring out from data’ or ‘to develop something that is latent but not on its own explicit.’ That’s what we’ve been doing with our virtual unwrapping work. And that context has created an opportunity to expand the very focused question of, ‘Can we read what’s inside a scroll?’ to a broader question of, ‘What heritage science questions can we answer right here in Kentucky,’ Seales explained. “My goal is to rally some of the best researchers here around that theme and build a world-class laboratory that allows us to pose and then answer some of those questions.”

And the quest for answers has already begun.

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