Can Artificial Intelligence Reconstruct Ancient Mosaics?

by   Fernando Moral-Andrés, et al.

A large number of ancient mosaics have not reached us because they have been destroyed by erosion, earthquakes, looting or even used as materials in newer construction. To make things worse, among the small fraction of mosaics that we have been able to recover, many are damaged or incomplete. Therefore, restoration and reconstruction of mosaics play a fundamental role to preserve cultural heritage and to understand the role of mosaics in ancient cultures. This reconstruction has traditionally been done manually and more recently using computer graphics programs but always by humans. In the last years, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has made impressive progress in the generation of images from text descriptions and reference images. State of the art AI tools such as DALL-E2 can generate high quality images from text prompts and can take a reference image to guide the process. In august 2022, DALL-E2 launched a new feature called outpainting that takes as input an incomplete image and a text prompt and then generates a complete image filling the missing parts. In this paper, we explore whether this innovative technology can be used to reconstruct mosaics with missing parts. Hence a set of ancient mosaics have been used and reconstructed using DALL-E2; results are promising showing that AI is able to interpret the key features of the mosaics and is able to produce reconstructions that capture the essence of the scene. However, in some cases AI fails to reproduce some details, geometric forms or introduces elements that are not consistent with the rest of the mosaic. This suggests that as AI image generation technology matures in the next few years, it could be a valuable tool for mosaic reconstruction going forward.


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