Earliest New World Writing

A pattern of insect, ear of corn, inverted fish and other symbols written on a stone tablet seems to be one of the ancient writings of the Western Hemisphere.

The pattern of symbols covering the face of the rectangular block also represents a previously unknown ancient writing system.

The text contains 28 distinct glyphs or symbols, some of which are repeated three and four times. The writing system does not appear to be linked to any known later scripts and may represent a dead end, according to the study.

Other experts not involved in the study agreed with Houston and his colleagues that the horizontally arranged inscription shows patterns that are the hallmarks of true writing, including syntax and language-specific word order.[Mysterious stone slab bears ancient writing]

Not all of these symbols are unfamiliar to archeologists. Mary Pohl at Florida State University is an expert on the Olmec. She’s analyzed Olmec symbols on jewelry and a cylindrical seal that dates almost as far back as the inscribed tablet. She says a few of the symbols are clearly written versions of carved stone objects, like an ear of corn, previously found at Olmec archeological sites.

“One sign looks actually like a corn cob with silk coming out the top,” Pohl says. Other signs are unique, she says, and never before seen, like one of an insect.

Pohl says these objects — and thus probably the writing — had a special value in rituals.

“We see that the writing is very closely connected with ritual and the early religious beliefs, because they are taking the ritual carvings and putting them into glyphs and making writing out of them,” Pohl says. “And all of this is occurring in the context of the emergence of early kings and the development of a centralized power and stratified society.”[Earliest New World Writing Discovered]

This stone tablet found in the Mexican state of Veracruz  is believed to have been written by the Olmecs and is believed to be 2900 years old. The Olmec civilization existed from 1200 BC to 400 BC in south-central Mexico and are famous for the giant heads they carved on stone.

See Also: Enlarged image of the stone called Cascajal block

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