Skip to comments.German Scientists: Europe's Oldest Script Found In Bulgaria (Minoan)
Posted on 05/19/2005 2:56:33 PM PDT by blam
German Scientists: Europe's Oldest Script Found in Bulgaria
Lifestyle: 18 May 2005, Wednesday.
Ancient tablets found in South Bulgaria are written in the oldest European script found ever, German scientists say.
The tablets, unearthed near the Southern town of Kardzhali, are over 35-centuries old, and bear the ancient script of the Cretan (Minoan) civilization, according to scientists from the University of Heidelberg, who examined the foundings. This is the Cretan writing, also known as Linear A script, which dates back to XV-XIV century B.C.
The discovery proves the theory of the Bulgarian archaeologists that the script on the foundings is one of the oldest known to humankind, the archaeologist Nikolay Ovcharov announced Wednesday.
Ovcharov, who is heading the archaeological expedition in the ancient Perperikon complex near Kardzhali, called the discovery "revolutionary". It throws a completely different light on Bulgaria's history, he said in an interview for the National Television.
Return to Castle Wolfenstein!
Linear B used the Minoan alphabet (actually a syllabary) to write Greek. Linear A uses the same characters for an unknown language which has resisted any effort to translate it. (If Michael Ventris couldn't do it, I dunno who could. He was a genius who died too young.) It's believed to be the language spoken by the Minoan inhabitants of Crete before the Dorian (Greek) invasion.
The extant documents are mostly inventory/tax lists, not a good sample to decipher an unknown language. Maybe these new documents will enable another attempt. But since they're tablets, they're probably just more tax rolls!
(That death and taxes thing again.)
"XV-XIV century B.C."
For some reason, I can't stand that. Pick a darn format you want to use and go with it!
There's something extremely depressing about the oldest writing known being for tax rolls.
That is too bad.
Were no epic poets tax collectors?
But of course if you're running a small kingdom like Crete with tributary princes, you better keep track of who has brought how much grain and oil and "ti-ro-pi-de" (tripods - the word that enabled Ventris to break the code).
Writing was invented to keep track of the taxes. (See Domesday Book for a more recent example.) Religious monuments and public proclamations came later.
I'd actually feel better if the earliest writing was soft-core porn than tax records :-)
Well ... yeah ... but technically that was the pre-viagran record.
Technically, tax rolls are records of screwing...
LOL. I think you're on to something.
But not mutual screwing....
IIRC, the oldest Sumerian tablets (around 3300 B.C. - older than the Egyptian hieroglyphs which began around 3100-3000) are in an unknown language, but they are lists, with quantities, of repetitive characters, which sounds an awful lot like an inventory, which means . . . taxes!
IIRC, Manes' stela is ca. 3200 BC, but I might be wrong.
The Narmer palette dates to around 3200 B.C. and according to the Egyptian tourist board website is one of the oldest examples of hieroglyphs.
Re: Linear A: unless the underlying language is discovered, it's not going to be deciphered, regardless of the number of scrolls available. There are lots of examples of Etruscan writing.
Well, I might be messed up. I meant that well-known from illustrations panel with two beasts with super-long intertwined necks and large Pharaonic figure. I remember reading the description that it was a panel (or stela?) signifying the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt, that it was about 3200 BC and that the unification was done by Menes. But my memory could have let me down.
Sorry, that's what comes of typing off the top of your head. It's been almost 30 years since I took that Greek Archaeology course . . . I was thinking of the earlier disaster, possibly a Mycenaean invasion (although some think it was the eruption of Thera) that toppled the early Cretan palace culture around 1700 B.C. There had been a lot of cross-cultural exchange before that (hence the Linear B). Prof. Blegen thinks the Dorians came waltzing in somewhere around 1200 B.C. and destroyed the Cretan civilization utterly.
If you haven't been to Thera, it is well worth a trip. Beautiful, beautiful views. Also, there is a site currently being excavated that you can visit.
They seem to be a good deal farther along with that than with the Linear A, though.
They went to Thera and took lots of pics (including of the new excavations).
We'll have to wait until the kids are older.
That's great, about your dad.
One nice thing about Crete is that the Iraklio museum is fantastic, well-organized but uncrowded. You can walk up to the Phaistos Disk and look at it as long as you like(one-on-one, so to speak). Not the Disneyland atmosphere of the Louvre or the British Museum.
a few related GGG / FR topics (reprised from the first one shown):
The Linear B Tablets and Mycenaean Social, Political, and Economic Organization
Lesson 25, The Prehistoric Archaeology of the Aegean
Revised: Friday, March 18, 2000 | Trustees of Dartmouth College
Posted on 08/29/2004 8:19:46 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
Inscription in Carian and Greek
Anistoriton | 27 Dec. 1997 | (editors)
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University of California, Irvine, Thesaurus Linguae Graecae
September 7 2003 (rev 9-28-2003) | Nick Nicholas
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The Argonaut Epos and Bronze Age Economic History
Economics Department, City College of New York
Revised May 14, 1999 | Morris Silver
Posted on 08/25/2004 10:30:51 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
Amazon Warrior Women
PBS | Current | PBS
Posted on 08/04/2004 8:51:53 PM PDT by blam
So Who Is Buried in Midas's Tomb?
NYT | 12/25/2001 | JOHN NOBLE WILFORD
Posted on 12/24/2001 10:12:01 PM PST by a_Turk
The Truth About An Epic Tale Of Love, War And Greed (Troy)
The Telegraph (UK) | 3-24-2004
Posted on 03/25/2004 12:03:11 PM PST by blam
Was There a Trojan War?
Archaeology | May/June 2004 | Manfred Korfmann
Posted on 07/29/2004 11:43:38 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on, off, or alter the "Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list --
Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
The GGG Digest -- Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)
Well, if you (or anyone you know) could beat 168 hours record without so much as taking a restroom break - my hat would be off to you.
Uncracked Ancient CodesLinear A, undeciphered, tantalizes, because about 80 percent of its signs resemble those of Linear B. Its system of numerals seems to be fairly clear: On several tablets, a term for "total" appears at the bottom of a tablet that includes a series of numbers. The numbers add up to the total given, instilling confidence that we understand at least these units. Attempts to show that Linear A represents a known language of the Aegean world, however, have not been successful. All but a few scholars agree that the language of Linear A cannot be Greek, and the idea that it represents a Semitic language has been rejected by nearly everyone. An Anatolian language (perhaps Lycian) remains a possibility... Robinson's descriptions of such analysis, and his accounts of both successful and unsuccessful decoding attempts, are clear, provocative and stimulating.
(Lost Languages reviewed)
by William C. West
The Enigma Of The World's Undeciphered Scripts
by Andrew Robinson
Google "Crete Rhodopes" for more info, but a while back I read that archaeologists found evidence of a Cretan presence in the Rhodopes Mts. in Bulgaria.
They are if they were cheating on their taxes!
What a cool story! Make sure you get it all down for future history!
It's present in abbreviated form on Free Republic, an interview my daughter did for her sixth grade history class:
I've read that book; it's a good layman survey. Robinson mentions that one of the experts in epigraphy gets hundreds of supposed solutions to the Phaistos disk sent to him every year.
Those supposed decipherments highlight the problem of decipherment of an unknown language. How would you know if the decipherment is accurate? So far, there are no claimed decipherments of Linear A or the Phaistos disk or Rongo-Rongo that are taken seriously "in the field." But probably a different word than decipherment needs to be used if the language is not known, and the solution cannot be verified.
There were of course comical early "decipherments" of glyphs that have since been largely cracked, such as Egyptian and Mayan.
I'm not sure what the big deal is. I've been writing Cretin script my entire life.
Thanks!--I figured you could find it :-)
"How would you know if the decipherment is accurate?"
The Ventris decipherment was rejected (actually, before it was made) by Arthur Evans' followers. Evans had insisted that the Minoans hadn't been Greek speakers, and that their written language would bear that out. Blegen went to Pylos hoping to find an archive and found one. Evans' followers immediately claimed the tablets had originated on Crete, but had been carried off by the conquering Greeks.
Then Blegen et applied Ventris' decipherment to the Pylos tablets. :')
My point is that it is difficult to verify decipherment; there are always issues associated with decipherments, and no decipherment is complete. It's possible to conceive of scripts being deciphered without the spoken language being known, but it would make verification that much more difficult - really impossible by today's standards.
(A later form of) the underlying language must still be spoken for a decipherment of the written languageOTOH, Sumerian is a completely dead language. Even the existence of that people was unsuspected. Cuneiform had however been adapted for use by quite a number of languages, and had itself been cracked using Akkadian-era Assyrian texts; Assyrian being from the Semitic family of languages, modern versions being still spoken.
Quarry, Setting and Team Marks: The Carian Connection
University of Leiden (Netherlands) | 1998 | (about) Sheldon Lee Gosline
Posted on 10/08/2004 3:20:42 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
see also messaage 32.Crete: isle of the dead?Linear A and B are two scripts of Crete. The newer Linear B was deciphered in 1953 by Michael Ventras and turned out to be Greek. In 1971, Dutch archaeologist and historian Jan Best claimed he had deciphered Linear A and had found a connection between Minoan Crete and the Hyksos. Linear A, he argued, was Semitic, related to the languages of Ugarit and Alalach in Syria.
by Philip Coppens
How on earth did the Minoan tablet get to Bulgaria?
Just updating the GGG info, not sending a general distribution.
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