Category Archives: Undeciphered

Khitan scripts — 920 AD and 925 AD, Mongolia

Emperor Taizu of the Khitan (AKA Liao) people introduced a script in 920 AD for his nomadic Mongolian nation. They had been using Chinese script, but the Chinese script was  a poor fit for the Khitan language.  Spoken Khitan had … Continue reading

Posted in Abjad, inventor known, language unknown, Logograms, previous script didn't quite work, Rating: 5 "Whoa!!", Syllabaries, Undeciphered | 1 Comment

Cretan hieroglyphics — 1500 BC?, Greece

There is an artifact, a clay tablet called the Phaistos disc, that was found in Crete with unusual signs on it.  The signs have not been deciphered, but they look logographic in that each symbol is easy to recognize as … Continue reading

Posted in Rating: 5 "Whoa!!", Undeciphered | 3 Comments

Byblos — 1800 BC, Lebanon

Byblos was a city in Phoenicia (now Ǧubayl, Lebanon) that has been inhabited since about 5000BC — perhaps is the oldest continuously-inhabited city in the world.  Byblos was a centre of publishing for a very very long time: the name … Continue reading

Posted in Rating: 4 "Huh, interesting!", Undeciphered | 1 Comment

Proto-Elamite — 3000BC?, Iran

Proto-writing happened over an extensive area over thousands of years.  While proto-writing developed into “proto-cuneiform” in modern-day Iraq and from there into Sumerian cuneiform, it developed into proto-Elamite in Iran (and from there into Elamite).  We don’t hear much about … Continue reading

Posted in developed by illiterate(s), Logograms, Rating: 4 "Huh, interesting!", Undeciphered | 1 Comment

Epi-Olmec — 900BC? ~450 BC?, Mexico

How many independently-developed writing systems have there been?  One hundred years ago, educated people would have told you without hesitation, “three: Sumerian or Egyptian in the Middle East, Chinese in China, and Mayan in Central America”.  Very well-educated people would … Continue reading

Posted in Logograms, Rating: 4 "Huh, interesting!", Syllabaries, Undeciphered | Leave a comment

Indus script — 2600 BC, Pakistan

Like the Sumerians and the Egyptians, the Harappans inhabited a fertile river valley (this one in Pakistan) in around 3300 BC.  Like in the Middle East, the Harappans developed a sophisticated civilization.  Like in the Middle East, the Harappans put … Continue reading

Posted in first in its area, Logograms, probably developed by illiterate(s), Rating: 2 "Not all that interesting", Undeciphered | 3 Comments

Vinca — 5300 BC, Serbia

There are some cases where there are symbols that experts can’t definitively agree are or are not writing.  Maybe the symbols are just decoration. Vinca is one such script, found on pottery and figurines in modern-day Serbia and adjoining countries … Continue reading

Posted in developed by illiterate(s), first in its area, Rating: 3 "I did not know that", Undeciphered | 3 Comments