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Decoding antiquity: Eight scripts that still can't be read
New Scientist ^ | 27 May 2009 | Andrew Robinson

Posted on 05/29/2009 9:14:19 PM PDT by BGHater

WRITING is one of the greatest inventions in human history. Perhaps the greatest, since it made history possible. Without writing, there could be no accumulation of knowledge, no historical record, no science - and of course no books, newspapers or internet.

The first true writing we know of is Sumerian cuneiform - consisting mainly of wedge-shaped impressions on clay tablets - which was used more than 5000 years ago in Mesopotamia. Soon afterwards writing appeared in Egypt, and much later in Europe, China and Central America. Civilisations have invented hundreds of different writing systems. Some, such as the one you are reading now, have remained in use, but most have fallen into disuse.

These dead scripts tantalise us. We can see that they are writing, but what do they say?

That is the great challenge of decipherment: to reach deep into the past and hear the voices of the dead. When the Egyptian hieroglyphs were deciphered in 1823, they extended the span of recorded history by around 2000 years and allowed us to read the words of Ramses the Great. The decipherment of the Mayan glyphs revealed that the New World had a sophisticated, literate civilisation at the time of the Roman empire.

So how do you decipher an unknown script? There are two minimum requirements. First, there has to be enough material to work with. Secondly, there must be some link to a known language. It helps enormously if there is a bilingual inscription or identifiable proper names - the Rosetta Stone (see image), for example, is written in both ancient Egyptian and ancient Greek, and also contains the name of the Ptolemy dynasty.

(Excerpt) Read more at newscientist.com ...


TOPICS: History; Science
KEYWORDS: crete; cuneiform; epigraphy; epigraphyandlanguage; etruscan; godsgravesglyphs; indusvalleyscript; isthmian; language; lineara; linearb; meroitic; minoan; olmec; phaistos; phaistosdisc; phaistosdisk; protoelamite; rongorongo; science; script; writing; zapotec
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1 posted on 05/29/2009 9:14:20 PM PDT by BGHater
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To: SunkenCiv

Ancient Languages chicken scratch ping.


2 posted on 05/29/2009 9:15:17 PM PDT by BGHater (It's easy to be a Conservative now.)
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To: BGHater

3 posted on 05/29/2009 9:22:22 PM PDT by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet)
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To: BGHater
Eight scripts that still can't be read

Nine, if you count Obambi's birth certificate.

4 posted on 05/29/2009 9:25:12 PM PDT by Charles Henrickson (What's your name? Who's your daddy?)
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To: BGHater
On my trip to London a number of years ago, on of my highlights was to see the original Rosetta Stone on display at the British Museum. Now if the Brits would only return the Elgin Marbles back to the Greeks from whom they were really stolen
5 posted on 05/29/2009 9:26:00 PM PDT by Lockbar (March toward the sound of the guns.)
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To: JoeProBono

That one is simple.

Obama is the greatest and so on.


6 posted on 05/29/2009 9:30:42 PM PDT by razorback-bert (We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers.)
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To: JoeProBono; Salamander; Markos33; GSP.FAN

I’m pretty sure I know what the first lines of that script say:

Moe: Mah Hah?

Curly: Ah Hah! Raz-banyah Yatchee benefucci a tinnimah coronji?

Moe: Yaskee-taskee a tiba gibbah sahee.


7 posted on 05/29/2009 9:33:10 PM PDT by shibumi (" ..... then we will fight in the shade.")
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To: BGHater

Some of these scripts are not likely to contibute much to our knowledge of world civilization, but Linear A, Etruscan, Meroitic, and Indus could tell us a lot about the early Minoan, Roman, and Egyptian civilizations, and everything about Indus Valley civilization.


8 posted on 05/29/2009 9:35:25 PM PDT by Lucius Cornelius Sulla ("men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters." -- Edmund Burke)
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To: razorback-bert

9 posted on 05/29/2009 9:36:28 PM PDT by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet)
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To: JoeProBono

...What?


10 posted on 05/29/2009 9:41:29 PM PDT by OneWingedShark (Q: Why am I here? A: To do Justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God.)
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To: shibumi

Uhh ehh uh ah ah
Ting tang walla walla bing bang
Uhh ehh uh ah ah
Ting tang walla walla bing bang


11 posted on 05/29/2009 9:41:32 PM PDT by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet)
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To: BGHater

I’ve got more than 8 scripts I wrote myself that even I can’t read.


12 posted on 05/29/2009 9:43:16 PM PDT by DannyTN
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To: JoeProBono

Hmmm. That tells a story about a flying saucer....


13 posted on 05/29/2009 9:47:44 PM PDT by Lancey Howard
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To: JoeProBono

LOL, Zero with a pancake on his head...!


14 posted on 05/29/2009 9:48:37 PM PDT by Lancey Howard
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To: JoeProBono
Probably an ancient tax form, if so it will remain undeciphered forever.
15 posted on 05/29/2009 9:51:10 PM PDT by count-your-change (You don't have be brilliant, not being stupid is enough.)
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To: Lancey Howard

16 posted on 05/29/2009 9:51:52 PM PDT by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet)
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To: JoeProBono

Oh my lord,,,i decoded some of it!!
It says, “beware the rise of communism. A great nation under attack by,,,,”

Im going to have to work on it more,,its some african name starting with an “O”.


17 posted on 05/29/2009 10:04:16 PM PDT by DesertRhino (Dogs earn the title of "man's best friend", Muslims hate dogs,,add that up.)
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To: JoeProBono
I can't read all of it but what I understand from this script is that it goes something like this -
There once was a beautiful woman from Nantucket.....
18 posted on 05/29/2009 10:04:29 PM PDT by jongaltsr (Hope to See ya in Galt's Gulch.)
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To: jongaltsr

19 posted on 05/29/2009 10:08:04 PM PDT by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet)
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To: BGHater

Not surprisingly, alot of the earliest tablets and scripts have been shown to be pretty mundane - 24 bushels of wheat, 14 cows, that sort of thing. Basic accounting and contracts.


20 posted on 05/29/2009 10:13:55 PM PDT by djf (Man up!! Don't be a FReeloader!! Make a donation today!)
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