The Indus Valley civilization was one of the more advanced on earth for longer than 500 years, with more than a lot of settlements sprawling across 250,000 square miles of what exactly is now Pakistan and India that is northwest from BCE to 1900 BCE. It had several large, well-planned cities like Mohenjo-daro, common iconography—and a script no body has been able to understand.
Some recent attempts to decipher it over at Nature, Andrew Robinson looks at the reasons why the Indus Valley script has been so difficult to crack, and details. Since we do not know any thing in regards to the underlying language and there is no multilingual Rosetta stone, scholars have analyzed its structure for clues and compared it to other scripts. Most Indologists think it really is “logo-syllabic” script like Sumerian cuneiform or Mayan glyphs. However they disagree about it represented only part of an Indus language, Robinson writes whether it was a spoken language or a full writing system; some believe.
One team has developed the first publicly available, electronic corpus of Indus texts.
Another, led by computer scientist Rajesh Rao, analyzed the randomness within the script’s sequences. Their results indicated it is most comparable to Sumerian cuneiform, which implies it might represent a language. Read the article that is full more information.
The Indus Valley script is not even close to the only person to remain mysterious. Here are eight others you may try your hand at deciphering.
1. Linear A
In 1893, British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans purchased some stones that are ancient mysterious inscriptions on them at a flea market in Athens. On a later trip to the excavations at Knossos in the island of Crete, he recognized one of several symbols from his stones and began a report associated with the tablets that are engraved uncovered at various sites on 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 turned out to represent an early kind of Greek), Linear A, above, has still not been deciphered.
2. Cretan Hieroglyphics
The excavations on Crete also revealed a third type of writing system, with symbols that looked more picture-like compared to those associated with linear scripts. Several of those symbols act like elements in Linear A. It is assumed that the hieroglyphic script progressed into Linear A, though the two systems were both in use during the same time frame.
3. Wadi script that is el-Hol
When you look at the 1990s, a couple of Yale archaeologists discovered a cliff that is graffiti-covered at the Wadi el-Hol (Gulch of Terror) in Egypt. Almost all of the inscriptions were in systems they could recognize, but one of those was unfamiliar. It seems like an early transition from 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. They thought the marks indicated hidden treasure, but none was found. Word got around and soon some archaeologists had a look. Later, the top for the expedition was executed for being a secret agent for the Soviets in Bulgaria. One piece of evidence used against him was a strange coded message he had sent to Kiev—actually a copy of the cliffside inscription he had delivered to colleagues for scholarly input. It is 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 really is simply a rock formation that is natural.
5. Olmec writing
The Olmecs were an old civilization that is mexican recognized for the statues they left out: the so-called “colossal heads.” In 1999, their writing system was revealed when road builders unearthed an inscribed stone tablet. The tablet shows 62 symbols; some look like corn or bugs, and some are more abstract. It is often dated to 900 B.C., which will make it the example that is oldest of writing in the Western Hemisphere.
6. Singapore stone
There once was a giant engraved slab made of sandstone during the mouth regarding the Singapore River. It turned out there for 700 years or more when, in 1819, workers uncovered it while clearing away jungle trees. A few scholars got a look at it before it absolutely was blown to bits so as to make space for a fort to guard the British settlements. The parts that didn’t end up in the river were eventually useful for road gravel, although some fragments were saved. The script was not deciphered, but there have been various recommendations for what language it might represent: ancient Ceylonese, Tamil, Kawi, Old Javanese, and Sanskrit.
When missionaries got to Easter Island in the 1860s, they found tablets that are wooden with symbols. They asked the Rapanui natives what the inscriptions meant, and were told that nobody knew anymore, since the Peruvians had killed off all the men that are wise. The Rapanui used the tablets as firewood or fishing reels, and also by the final end of the century they were almost all gone. Rongorongo is printed in alternating directions; you read a line from left to right, then turn the tablet 180 degrees and see the next line.
This ancient writing system was used a lot more than 5000 years ago in what is currently Iran. Written from straight to left, the script is unlike virtually any ancient scripts; as the proto-Elamites may actually have borrowed the idea for a written language from their Mesopotamian contemporaries, they apparently invented their very own symbols—and did not bother to help keep tabs on them in an organized way, proto-Elamite expert and Oxford University scholar Jacob Dahl told the BBC in 2012. Around that right time, he and his Oxford colleagues asked for help 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.