Yale Program Uses Machine Learning and Botany to Decode Ancient Greek Knowledge

By Sunil Sonkar
2 Min Read
Yale Ancient Pharmacology Program

Researchers from Yale College are working on a unique archaeological expedition. It is said to be unique as it blends ancient knowledge with latest technology. A junior researcher Micah Gold is leading the study. Previously he has leveraged his skills piloting drones and writing algorithms. He is now part of the Yale Ancient Pharmacology Program (YAPP). It is an initiative to decode ancient Greek knowledge by using ethnography, science and technology.


The YAPP team is on a mission in the port city of Antikyra, located on the Gulf of Corinth. They are trying to discover archaeological sites and plant specimens. The discoveries are learned to reveal insights into the medicinal practices, culinary traditions and daily lives of ancient inhabitants.

The project is an academic exercise for Gold and other researchers at the Yale College. It is an opportunity for them to use machine learning in identifying sites and plants rich in phytochemicals properties.

Gold said that he is refining his skills and learning to read archaeological literature. He is understanding how scientific research is organized. It is his second summer with YAPP. In his previous stint he learned piloting of drones equipped with multi-spectral imaging technology. The drones are important in mapping rough terrain of the region. Researchers can easily locate remnants of ancient pottery and artifacts. Gold thereafter developed algorithms to analyze the multi-spectral data.

YAPP principal investigator Andrew Koh said the students value their expertise as the typical archaeologist doesn’t know very much about machine learning. He is pioneer in using organic residue analysis to identify substances. With the combination chemistry, botany and ethnographic knowledge, YAPP aims to recreate ancient substances.

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