The Dispilio Tablet : The Oldest Known Written Text
According to conventional archaeology, writing wasn’t invented until 3000 to 4000 BC in Sumeria. However, an artefact was found over a decade ago which contradicts this belief – and perhaps this is the reason why few people know about the discovery.
The Dispilio tablet was discovered by a professor of prehistoric archaeology, George Xourmouziadis, in 1993 in a Neolithic lake settlement in Northern Greece near the city of Kastoria. A group of people used to occupy the settlement 7,000 to 8,000 years ago. The Dispilio tablet was one of many artefacts that were found in the area, however the importance of the table lies in the fact that it has an unknown written text on it that goes back further than 5,000 BC. The wooden tablet was dated using the C12 method to have been made in 5260 BC, making it significantly older than the writing system used by the Sumerians.
The text on the tablet includes a type of engraved writing which probably consists of a form of writing that pre-existed Linear B writing used by the Mycenaean Greeks. As well as the tablet, many other ceramic pieces were found that also have the same type of writing on them. Professor Xourmouziadis has suggested that this type of writing, which has not yet been deciphered, could be any form of communication including symbols representing the counting of possessions.
More artefacts were discovered that show the economic and agricultural activities of the settlement, proof of animal breeding and their diet preferences as well as tools and pottery, figurines and other personal ornaments.
Decoding the writing is going to be difficult if not impossible, unless a new Rosetta stone is found. Unfortunately, by the moment the tablet was removed out of its original environment, contact with oxygen started the deterioration process and it is now under preservation. It is impressive to think that the wooden tablet had remained at the bottom of the lake for 7,500 years.
While this artefact predates the Sumerian writing system, I am sure in the future more will be found in other areas of the world that will go even further back in time, until the true history of humanity will be unravelled and completely change what we know about our history.
By John Black