The Indus Valley civilization was perhaps one of the most advanced on the planet for more than 500 years, with over one thousand settlements sprawling across 250,000 square miles of what exactly 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.
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 anything in regards to the underlying language and there isn’t any multilingual Rosetta stone, scholars have analyzed its structure for clues and compared it to other scripts. Most Indologists think it is “logo-syllabic” script like Sumerian cuneiform or Mayan glyphs. Nevertheless they disagree about whether or not it was a spoken language or a full writing system; some believe it represented only section 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 within the script’s sequences. Their results indicated it is most just like Sumerian cuneiform, which suggests it may represent a language. See the full article for more details.
The Indus Valley script is far from the only one to remain mysterious. Listed below 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 it at a flea market in Athens. On a later trip to the excavations at Knossos in the island of Crete, he recognized one of the symbols from his stones and began a research regarding the 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 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 style of writing system, with symbols that looked more picture-like compared to those associated with the linear scripts. Many of these symbols are similar to elements in Linear A. It is assumed that the hieroglyphic script progressed into Linear A, though the two systems were both in use throughout the time period that is same.
3. Wadi el-Hol script
When you look at the 1990s, a couple of Yale archaeologists discovered a graffiti-covered cliff wall at the Wadi el-Hol (Gulch of Terror) in Egypt. The majority of the inscriptions were in systems they are able to recognize, but one of those was unfamiliar. It looks like an transition that is early a hieroglyphic to an alphabetic system, but it has not yet been deciphered.
4. Sitovo inscription
In 1928 a small grouping of woodcutters found some markings carved into a cliffside that is bulgarian. The marks were thought by them indicated hidden treasure, but none was found. Word got around and soon some archaeologists had a look. Later, your head regarding the expedition was executed to be a agent that is secret the Soviets in Bulgaria. One bit of evidence used against him was a strange coded message he had provided for Kiev—actually a duplicate of the cliffside inscription he had delivered to colleagues for scholarly input. It is really not clear what language the inscription represents. Thracian, Celtic, Sarmato-Alanian, and Slavic are some of the possibilities scholars have argued for. Another suggestion is that it is simply a natural rock formation.
5. Olmec writing
The Olmecs were an old civilization that is mexican recognized for the statues they put aside: the so-called “colossal heads.” In 1999, their writing pay for research paper system was revealed when road builders unearthed an stone tablet that is inscribed. The tablet shows 62 symbols; some seem like corn or bugs, and some tend to be more abstract. It has been dated to 900 B.C., which may ensure it is the example that is oldest of writing in the Western Hemisphere.
6. Singapore stone
There used to be a giant engraved slab made of sandstone at the mouth of 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 it was blown to bits in order to make space for a fort to protect the British settlements at it before. The parts that did end up in n’t the river were eventually useful for road gravel, while some fragments were saved. The script has not been deciphered, but there were suggestions that are various what language it might represent: ancient Ceylonese, Tamil, Kawi, Old Javanese, and Sanskrit.
When missionaries got to Easter Island in 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 of the men that are wise. The Rapanui used the tablets as firewood or fishing reels, and by the end associated with century these were nearly all gone. Rongorongo is printed in alternating directions; you read a line from left to right, then turn the tablet 180 degrees and read 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; although the proto-Elamites seem to have borrowed the theory for a written language from their Mesopotamian contemporaries, they apparently invented their very own symbols—and didn’t bother to keep an eye 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 and his Oxford colleagues asked for help from the general 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 institutions that are several the project is ongoing.