According to conventional archaeology, writing wasn’t invented until 3000 to 4000 BC in Sumeria. However, an artifact 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 artifacts 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 artifacts 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 artifact 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 unraveled and completely change what we know about our history.
By John Black
Excavations at Dispilio constitute a landmark for archaeological investigations in Greece because of the special character of the site and because it permits the study of habitation structures during the Neolithic Period.
The houses of the settlement, circular and rectangular, were built of timber, reed, and clay upon timber-post framed platforms. The modern reconstruction of the lakeside settlement provides a wonderful insight into the habitation norms of that period.
Among the fauna and flora remains, as well as the mobiliary finds from the excavations (pottery, tools, etc.), the whole range of economic activities of the prehistoric inhabitants of Dispilio are represented: farming, animal husbandry, hunting and fishing.
Numerous bone hooks and traces of a boat, identical to those used to this day by the fishermen of Kastoria, is clear evidence that fishing was practised. Finds, such as leaf-shaped and triangular arrowheads of Melian obsidian, pottery similar to that of the neighboring Balkan areas, and a stone ring idol pendant, place the settlement of Dispiliowithin the exchange networks developed in Greece in particular during the Late Neolithic period.
Grey pottery of the Tsangli type, black burnished ware of the Larisa type, and polychrome-painted vessels date to the phases of the Late Neolithic I. In the late phases of the settlement, black and blacktopped ware predominated, as well as red burnished and painted designs (brown on a light background). Characteristic types of vases were bowls, fruit stands, closed vases with a neck, and clay tables.
The community at Dispilio must have been a culturally evolved one, as is indicated by the three bone flutes, along with a wooden tablet with incised linear symbols that archaeologists were happy to unearth (please see our album). This tablet dates with certainty from 5260 BC, and is probable to be an early form of written speech, as has been assumed about similar symbols on clay, discovered at settlements in the southern Balkans (Vinca culture).
The signs (letters) on the tablet transcribed. They really look like writing.
I also think they bear some resemblance to these symbols..
This inscription was made about 6,500 years ago on the wall of a cave near Sitovo (next to Plovdiv, Bulgaria). The written signs are in two lines and each row is 3,4 meters long. The signs are 40 cm tall.
There’s a legend from Europe that the birch goddess taught people to write, and there is evidence from medieval finds that birch bark has been used as a form of parchment in Europe. Only time will tell if it’s really writing.