Friday, September 15, 2006

Etch-a-Sketch BC


An ancient slab of green stone inscribed with insects, ears of corn, fish and other symbols is indecipherable so far, but one message is clear: It is the earliest known writing in the Western Hemisphere. The ancient Olmec civilization probably produced the faintly etched symbols around 900 B.C., or roughly three centuries before what previously had been proposed as the earliest examples of writing in the Americas. 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.

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