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A stone block from Mexico thousands of years old apparently
inscribed with a previously unknown writing may be the oldest
text in the New World, an international team of archaeologists
This find lights the hope of future discoveries of written records
detailing the Olmecs, the likely creators of the block and the
ancient civilization that in many respects was the progenitor of
all later complex societies in Mesoamerica, such as the Maya
and the Aztecs.
"This reveals the Olmecs, in many ways the first civilization in a
vast part of the ancient Americas, were literate, which we did not
know for sure before, and hints that they were capable of the
same large-scale organization assisted by writing like you saw in
early Mesopotamia or Egypt," researcher Stephen Houston,
an archaeologist at Brown University in Providence, R.I., told
Surrounding the Cascajal block were ceramic sherds, fragments of
clay figurines and broken stone artifacts. Based on their design,
the researchers dated the slab back to 3,100 years or before,
at least 400 years before writing was thought to have first appeared
in the Americas.