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8 Ancient Writing Systems Which Haven’t Been Deciphered Yet

8 Ancient Writing Systems Which Haven’t Been Deciphered Yet

The Indus Valley civilization was perhaps one of the most advanced on the planet for over 500 years, with more than one thousand settlements sprawling across 250,000 square miles of what is now Pakistan and northwest India from 2600 BCE to 1900 BCE. It had several large, well-planned cities like Mohenjo-daro, common iconography—and a script no one has been able to understand.

Over at Nature, Andrew Robinson looks at the reasons why the Indus Valley script happens to be so hard to crack, and details some recent attempts to decipher it. Since we don’t know any single thing about the underlying language and there is no multilingual Rosetta stone, scholars have analyzed its structure for clues and compared it with other scripts. Most Indologists think it really is “logo-syllabic” script like Sumerian cuneiform or Mayan glyphs. But they disagree about whether or not it was a spoken language or a complete writing system; some believe it represented only element of an Indus language, Robinson writes.

One team has developed the first publicly available, electronic corpus of Indus texts.

Another, led by computer scientist Rajesh Rao, analyzed the randomness into the script’s sequences. Their results pay for essay indicated it really is most comparable to Sumerian cuneiform, which implies it may represent a language. Read the article that is full more details.

The Indus Valley script is far from the only one to keep mysterious. Here are eight others you may try your hand at deciphering.

1. Linear A

In 1893, British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans purchased some ancient stones with mysterious inscriptions in it at a flea market in Athens. On a later trip to your excavations at Knossos in the island of Crete, he recognized one of the symbols from his stones and began a research of this tablets that are engraved uncovered at various sites regarding the island. He discovered two different systems, which he called Linear A and Linear B. While Linear B was deciphered during the early 1950s (it ended up to represent an early type of Greek), Linear A, above, has still not been deciphered.

2. Cretan Hieroglyphics

The excavations on Crete also revealed a third variety of writing system, with symbols that looked more picture-like compared to those for the linear scripts. Some of those symbols act like elements in Linear A. It is assumed that the hieroglyphic script progressed into Linear A, although the two systems were in both use throughout the time period that is same.

3. Wadi script that is el-Hol

Within the 1990s, a set of Yale archaeologists discovered a cliff that is graffiti-covered at the Wadi el-Hol (Gulch of Terror) in Egypt. A lot of the inscriptions were in systems they could recognize, but one of them was unfamiliar. It appears to be like an transition that is early a hieroglyphic to an alphabetic system, but it hasn’t yet been deciphered.

4. Sitovo inscription

In 1928 a team of woodcutters found some markings carved into a Bulgarian cliffside. The marks were thought by them indicated hidden treasure, but none was found. Word got around and very quickly some archaeologists had a look. Later, the pinnacle regarding the expedition was executed if you are a secret agent for the Soviets in Bulgaria. One bit of evidence used he had sent to Kiev—actually a copy of the cliffside inscription he had sent to colleagues for scholarly input against him was a strange coded message. It is really not clear what language the inscription represents. Thracian, Celtic, Sarmato-Alanian, and Slavic are among the possibilities scholars have argued for. Another suggestion is the fact that it is simply a rock formation that is natural.

5. Olmec writing

The Olmecs were an ancient Mexican civilization best recognized for the statues they put aside: the so-called “colossal heads.” In 1999, their writing system was revealed when road builders unearthed an stone tablet that is inscribed. The tablet shows 62 symbols; some appear to be corn or bugs, and some are far more abstract. It has been dated to 900 B.C., which will make it the example that is oldest of writing within the Western Hemisphere.

6. Singapore stone

There once was a giant engraved slab made of sandstone at the mouth associated with Singapore River. It absolutely was there for 700 years or so when, in 1819, workers uncovered it while clearing away jungle trees. A few scholars got a look it was blown to bits in order to make space for a fort to protect the British settlements at it before. The parts that didn’t find yourself in the river were eventually employed for road gravel, though some fragments were saved. The script was not deciphered, but there were suggestions that are various what language it might represent: ancient Ceylonese, Tamil, Kawi, Old Javanese, and Sanskrit.

7. Rongorongo

When missionaries surely got to Easter Island within the 1860s, they found wooden tablets carved with symbols. They asked the Rapanui natives what the inscriptions meant, and were told that nobody knew anymore, considering that the Peruvians had killed off all the men that are wise. The Rapanui used the tablets as firewood or fishing reels, and by the final end regarding the century they certainly were the majority of gone. Rongorongo is printed in alternating directions; you read a line from left to right, then turn the tablet 180 degrees and read the line that is next.

8. Proto-Elamite

This ancient writing system was used significantly more than 5000 years back in what is now Iran. Written from right to left, the script is unlike every other ancient scripts; while the proto-Elamites seem to have borrowed the concept for a written language from their Mesopotamian contemporaries, they apparently invented their own symbols—and did not bother to keep tabs on them in an way that is organized proto-Elamite expert and Oxford University scholar Jacob Dahl told the BBC in 2012. Around that time, he along with his Oxford colleagues asked for assistance from the public in deciphering proto-Elamite. They released high-quality images of clay tablets covered in Proto-Elamite, hoping that crowdsourcing could decode them. Now a collaboration involving several institutions, the project is ongoing.

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