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Some notes about Early European Writing

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posted on Mar, 25 2005 @ 06:11 PM
This kind of deserved its own topic.

Before we go off into "archaeologists think", let me explain what anthropologists and archaeologists know about writing and Europe. We know that people were making symbols and art for at least 30,000 years and that some of the marks seem to indicate territories ("this is where the Bear Clan lives") or ownership ("all pots with THIS mark on it belong to Magda The Incredible".) There are a number of written languages around the world where these signs (not based on the same stuff but based on the concept of "ownership marks) develop into written languages.

There's good evidence of this with the beginnings of the Egyptian language, for example. This development also started the Chinese writing system and there was something similar for the Hindu languages.

One site that scholars are interested in because it's a Neolithic ("Stone Age just before the Bronze Age") site that has a number of villages and these ownership markings is the Tordos-Vinca site:

Note that there's no doubt in anyone's mind that these are a form of mark/ownership that also fostered a strict social structure and a religious structure.

A good page on the Tordos-Vinca findings is here:

The alphabet does not seem to have traveled widely to other areas. Yes, there are similarities between it and markings elsewhere, but -- let's be brutal here, guys -- there are only so many markings you can make with a pointy stick in wet clay. You can't do the Mona Lisa on a postage stamp-sized piece of clay with a pointy stick (even if you ARE Leonardo da Vinci.)

The Tordos-Vinca disks are an interesting piece of history and worth a bit more attention than they get. Unfortunately, much of the original material is lost (probably many shards are hidden in a Hungarian museum storage room somewhere) as are the notes.

Whups! Almost forgot! A nice summary of what we know and the various European scripts is here:

[edit on 25-3-2005 by Byrd]

posted on Mar, 26 2005 @ 06:50 PM
I know that the vinca script is uber-old, but, just because this is a thread about ancient writtings....

I'd sure like for man to be able to figure out more about the etruscan script. Such a fascinating people, and so historically important considering that they're sort of hte basis of roman, and thus european and thus modern, society (tho perhaps thats a bit of an hyperbole).

Then agian, all that is left of there writting is small and short epigraphic texts, rather than full books, so perhaps it wouldn't be too revealing anyway.

Another script that is in desperate need of translating I would say is the supposed 'dravidian' script of the old indus valley civilization. Heck, even the old greek script remains undecipherable!

On ownership marks, this seems like an interesting way for writting to start, from a psychologizing perspective, because it literally centeres aroung something like the identification of self from non-self; even tho its the greater group rather than 'myself'.

Interstingly, this indicates that ownership of property is important and seminal in the development of writting, and that, also, since its the group, that the group is also vitally important.

Is there any evidence that the cuneiform scripts began this way? I'd think that there's a possibility that they did not since they seemed to be widely used for accounting rather than mere 'dis is mine'ism? Or also, the phonecian scipt, are the earliest examples of it 'ownership' markings?

Perhaps, if not, then the 'aboriginal' or earliest phases in writtuing are ownership based, and when a society/culture 'advanced to the next stage' there is a different context underwhich new scripts would have to develop? This is also intersting because it might, perhaps, make things like the chinese script and entire 'primitive' family of writtings, as compared to the phonetic one.

posted on Mar, 26 2005 @ 11:57 PM
We really need more funds and better ways to locate good archaeological sites. So much data on scripts and civilizations was destroyed by afficionados and collectors and treasure thieves... I wish we could go back and protect those sites and do proper work on them. Who knows what else we could uncover about the writings. And we ALSO need to go into the collections and archives at museums. The darndest stuff turns up there.

I was actually amazed at how many scripts there are that aren't well translated (or translated yet). I'm drawing a blank on the South American ones... I'm not sure that the string knotting language/code is thoroughly documented.

And then there's the wonderful treasures like the wampum belts of the Native Americans.

The whole "purpose of marks" is fascinating and there's actually quite a bit about it in the rock art. We understand the meaning of much of the recent work (recent... past 2,000 years or so.) The ancient maps intrigue me (not huge maps; maps of local irrigation and property boundaries carved in stone) and archaeoastronomy (ancient astronomy) is becoming more interesting to me now.

I think this kind of indicates that I'll specialize (or "take a minor in) in PaleoIndians at SMU when I go for my PhD. I love this stuff, and there's a lot to research about it.

Sorry for chaotic reply. It's late and I'm writing on other things.

posted on Mar, 30 2005 @ 02:22 PM
Oops! My preferred subject.By chance I got involved in studing (and deciphering) those Vinca "supposed writings".My conclusions are as folows: 1.The appearance of drowing and signs in Europe begun in times as 40.000BC.There are many of them in The caves of France,Spain,Cechoslovakia and the rest of Europe. 2.There are remains of begining of writing in Europe (Azil,Glozel) for the 8.000-10.000BC period.As long as I know those writings are undeciphered.My personal opinion is that the final point was an finished writing system. 3.Theoretically the emergence of writing could happen independently in different areas.Not to forget that those ancient people were in a constant moove,and the information the same.Could happen anything from the appearance of a writing system at a distant point from origin (with not too too much chances in my opinion) to changing information and improving one writing system from an area with some knoledge from another area (with much chances in my opinion).4. Writing is associated in my opinion ,in ancient times with evolved societies;writing is becoming at one point a strong need for a evolved society.Like the appearance of new tools. 5. In Europe,the time-chart of "searching for writing" are in a decreasing order,from older,as follows:Azilian/Glozel ,Danubian,Linear A,B,Etruscan,Greek.I found an comparison work in wich the Danubian,Linear,Etruscan are in the same order as above,and some-how evidenced in theoretical functional relation,(parent-child.)6. An writing system could evolve from thousend of signs wich every of them could represent something more or little definite ;from general notions/pictographic,to a phonetic-one in wich a sign could reprezent morphemes (as a consonant-vocal pair),to a alphabetic one.In those European systems all could happen until scientist will demonstrate otherwise.6.I studied more the "supposed Vinca writing".Here:my opinion is that the vast majority of writings are as you stated above:unfinished,for religious purposes and for counting objects/marking purposes.Here I am strongly for some of them to be representative of a "real writing".I don't know where the signs are from or detailed explanation.Partly to know for sure one must be a good detective, beside other scientific fields.Could be many others unearthed (in fact there is sufficiently only some 5 of them,written with the same "alphabet" to sustain an "real writing system". 7.The latter are containing signs wich are used in many ancient scripts in the same period (4.500-3.500 BC).8. My strong opinion is that Azilian-Glozel "writing" could be known in entire Europe,but found proper climate/conditions in the Danube civilisation ,allready quite developed(Lepenski-Vir,Vinca,etc).The carriers of writings were no others than the hunter-gatheres from paleolithic and partly neolithic,mainly of proto-Iberian stock;if you want,name them:proto-Ibero-Celts.(I know celts could sound strange here).I am also for an early Iberian-Danubian people extention in Eurasia,somehaw oposite to latter Anatolian-Near-East influx.Don't ask me please for the exact periods ,detailed routes,etc.9.I am proposing you,that especially in the periods previous of IE-comings,extensive Eurasian territories were occupied by the well-known "pelasgians",especially:Europe,Mediterranean area,Caucasus and Near-East.The population pressure points/areas were :Anatolia-Near-East-Africa.Those people were allready mixed in a good grade/mesure. 10.For latter 'supposed Vinca writings" there are only the folowing origin hypothesis:Iberian area,the signs maybe slightly changed,Sumerian-palestinian area and also as a posibility,local,Danubian area.My opinion/chances are: for the first,90%, second 80%,third 30%. 11. One must note the folowing types of civilisation in mesolitic in Serbia-Western Romania:Tardonesian centro-european,Azilian,Late Gravettian (of romanello-azilian aspect).Don't ask what these are meaning,ask the archeologists.i understand the azilian connection,or azilian-type cultures.

posted on Mar, 30 2005 @ 03:14 PM
All my searchings were begining in November,last year.Surfing on Internet,I found those Tartaria (on Romanian territory,Alba county).Same day saw some ancient alphabets.nstantly i realised that more than half of signs were used in another places.I tryed to identify the common signs and the rest of them.I advanced as an work hypothesis that those writing and letters somehow mooved.No matter where from and to,no matter how.I made an very unefficient work,producing texts from sumerian,sanscrit, to old egyptian,euskara,albanian.This work was not 100% in vain.i got more accustomed with languages,I begun to complete my hystory knoledges,in some languages the was very easy to have an coherent-logic text for others,some squeezing needed.I studied more about inca civilisation,about ancient peoples,their migrations and mooving.I searched for the directions of writings in different periods.Downloded many ancient alphabets,and written many pages with words from those languages.I got contact with some scientists.The first one prooved to be...not so accusomed with the signs in general as me.Cause was a "turanian" variant or proposal he encouraged me in a high degree. The deciphering technique is as follows:1.Comparing the signs with all known world sound/notion-related signs. 2.Give such an equivalent to every sign. 3.For a concrete variant to choose a concrete/fix direction of writing. 4.We have a succesion of letters/notions. This is the "raw text" .5.Completing with vocals.How many posibilities ,same number of subvariants". 6.Choose an supposed people/language as 'target" 7.Try to produce of also "raw variants" 8.Making adjustings,changes for final variants. 8.Choosing between them (when possible).Could have more than one coherent,logic,"round one".Maybe I forgot 1-2 points,but mainly this is the processus. Sometimes happened as I dived deep in the ocean and saw something,some old artefacts,not cristall-clear.The sensation of beeing the first-one who had the chance to see them.Sometime could have an image of what is saw,of scene,scenario,in a context,sometimes only supposing what they are meaning.Step by step I advanced in zig-zag,to the present place.Who knows if is a real advancing in fact,I hope so. What I know for sure are:The serbian archeologists are stating that at their site,real first-one Vinca,the results are for anatolian colonists wich were involved in metal-working.At our site,Tartaria they found near the clay-tablet/token,an dissasembled,burned human/female (aprox. 50 y.o.) skeleton.If i want to begin an discussing about the supposed-language of the writer(s)..I have no partener,nobody know in mesure to be of some help to me.I am interessed what's your opinion about all I told. P.S. In my work I supposed an alphabetic script (one sign=one sound).

posted on Mar, 31 2005 @ 02:30 PM
Interesting, and thanks!

I should note, though, that the "one sign, one sound" doesn't actually hold up. In ancient Egypt, for instance, one sign could stand for two or three sounds -- the feather, for instance, stands for the sounds "ma'at" and the symbol of the falcon stands for the sounds "heru"

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