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Writing of unknown origin

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    Posted: 20 Sep 2011 at 08:15
It seems that there are still writing systems to discover and decipher out there!

Recently I spotted out two really weird writings at a museum in Greece. Initially I believed there was some kind of Carian writing, since Carian inscriptions are expected to be found all around Greece. I returned home and try to figure out what was written, when I discovered the alphabet used was a rather mutated version of Carian. Then I noticed that there were extra characters that should not be present in Carian texts.




I send the images to Proff. Ignacio Adiego, the person who finalized the decipherment of Carian that Proff. D. Ray started in 1982. He was clear that the alphabet is obviously a Greek/Phoenician derived alphabet, looking "very Carian". However, there are many characters that are not present in Carian. As a whole the alphabet is not Greek, Phoenician, Lydian, Phrygian, Carian, Etruscan nor Lycian.



The museum reports that the fragments were found amongst objects related to the Persian invasion of Greece and that they belong to some enslaved nation of the Persian empire. Obviously, the figure on both fragments look like a Persian officer or leader. Most probably, whatever nation wrote this was not far from the eastern Mediterranean coast.

There are recognisable characters that are a blend of alphabetic and linear symbols. I haven't had yet a good look on it, but I believe any reading would result something impossible to classify (e.g IE or Semitic).

So, have you ever seen anything similar to this before? Does it possibly ring any bell?

PS: Make a wild guess why I put a watermarked text on the images...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Sep 2011 at 14:53
Flipper, i can't begin to guess, but i can say... that you are the man! You are the bee's knee's in cleverness. Thumbs Up

As for the thread, unfortunately i am not too familiar with this very interesting subject.

p.s. you just got thanked and a five star rating for such an interesting post! Smile


Edited by Panther - 20 Sep 2011 at 14:54
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Flipper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Sep 2011 at 17:51
Thank you Panther for the good words!
Lets hope we're gonna find more writings like this in the future. Maybe it is an early attempt of writing of some of the already known people of the West Asia. For example Sidetic (anatolian IE), Mysian (mixed anatolian - palaeobalkanic ?) and Pisidian (Anatolian IE) are languages we know existed but they left almost no inscriptions except some counted in one hand, written in Greek characters. However, it might also be a minority population within the Persian empire that adopted alphabetic writing and that we know nothing about. The language could be anything from IE, Semitic, Caucasian to a language isolate.


Edited by Flipper - 23 Sep 2011 at 07:33
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Sep 2011 at 19:12
The first image looks like graffiti and and the only thing that could be related to the Persians about it is the hat on the figure which is the Medean standard.  If it is not graffiti then it must be a lot older than 25 hundred years; I am sure official scribes and masons could achieve a much better standard in quality by then.
"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Flipper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Sep 2011 at 19:54
Originally posted by Zagros Zagros wrote:

The first image looks like graffiti and and the only thing that could be related to the Persians about it is the hat on the figure which is the Medean standard.  If it is not graffiti then it must be a lot older than 25 hundred years; I am sure official scribes and masons could achieve a much better standard in quality by then.


Yes the hat is revealing in this case. Since you mentioned Medean standard, I was thinking it could also be a Cimmerian leftover? I am pretty sure Cimmerians were not annihilated from the region completely. Considering their hostile relations to the other people (Lydians, Phrygians and Greeks) they could be one of the loyal subjects of the empire.

On the dating: Less literate societies did not achieve good results in writing. Even many Greek potteries from the same era are not that beautiful. The thrower might not have been that stylish or even literate to write down his clients request. In the same museum I saw pots from northern Greece dated to the 6th century BC. A nice expensive looking amphora had names written on it with perfectly round letters. Cheap pottery for everyday usage (e.g water urns) had letters drawn in a clumsy way, either as graffiti either as painted writing. Interesting is that in one of them the owner was probably not literate and just draw some letters on it Α Β Γ Δ Ε Ι.


Edited by Flipper - 21 Sep 2011 at 01:36
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Harburs Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Sep 2011 at 13:39
First picture just reminds me of Median soldiers. Nowdays, Bakhtiaris have a similar clothing. Take a look at this pal as an example for a modern Bakhtiari.




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Flipper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Sep 2011 at 17:53
So do you think this could be an previously unknown Medean alphabetic writing?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Sep 2011 at 19:11
Originally posted by Harburs Harburs wrote:

First picture just reminds me of Median soldiers. Nowdays, Bakhtiaris have a similar clothing. Take a look at this pal as an example for a modern Bakhtiari.






  You need help mate.  It is seriously scary that you saved this photo.


"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Harburs Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Sep 2011 at 00:44
Originally posted by Flipper Flipper wrote:

So do you think this could be an previously unknown Medean alphabetic writing?
It can be. I haven't seen any Median alphabet up to now.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Harburs Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Sep 2011 at 00:46
@ Zigi: I got it with no effort just search bakhtiari on google. (hint: old site)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Sep 2011 at 01:03
I can't tell you how relieved I am.
"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Flipper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Sep 2011 at 07:31
You guys are funny!
Well, I had no doubts that the figure was some kind of ruler from the region of Medea and Iran. Now, I would leave any possibility open here and what I would like to put on public view are the possible correspondences of the symbols to known alphabets.

No matter if the text is read from left to right or right to left I will number them in order to be able to reference them properly.



For each number I will list the possibles known values and see if some combination can make sense in some known language.

1: Ψ (ps)
2: ka (Linear B), qa/qu (Carian), T in Phoenician
3: M, la (Cypriot Syllabic), S (Carian)
4: similar to character 3 or represents a K (?), maybe Carian β
5: Carian U, Phoenician sh?
6: Archaic Greek letter corresponding -ss- or Proto-Anatolian ś.
7: S or Cypriot pe
8: N or Carian M
9: R or Carian š (palatal)
10: Phonician aleph - A , Carian i (?), mi or ki (Linear B)
11: sa (Linear B)
12: gamma Γ
13: ?
14: Carian W
15: ?

That's a quick mash up for starters. What is tricky here is that we can't be certain if the symbols represent a single letter or a syllable. If you see something I don't just add it on this enumeration.


Edited by Flipper - 23 Sep 2011 at 07:37
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