We have completed maintenance on DiscoverMagazine.com and action may be required on your account. Learn More

78. Tablets Of Unknown Ancient Script Surface

By Andrew Lawler
Jan 14, 2008 6:00 AMNov 12, 2019 4:54 AM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

In 2007, excavators of a remote site in southeastern Iran reported finding evidence of a writing system that dates back more than 4,000 years. Featuring odd geometric symbols, three baked mud tablets unearthed near the Iranian city of ­Jiroft could reveal much about a sophisticated and independent urban culture that flourished between the Mesopotamian and Indus Valley civilizations. However, many scholars are skeptical about the authenticity of the finds, which they ­suspect may have been planted by locals.

Archaeologists first began digging at large mounds near Jiroft in 2001 after flash floods uncovered ancient graves nearby. The team has since found evidence of a large city dating to 2500 B.C.

Then, in 2005, a worker brought Yousef Madjidzadeh, the archaeologist in charge of the excavation, a tablet covered with strange symbols on the front and back, saying he dug it up in his village a few hundred yards away. Last winter, Madjidzadeh ordered his team to dig at the spot, where they uncovered two more tablets. The three appear to show a progression: The first has 8 simple geometric signs; the second includes 15 slightly more complex signs, while the third has a total of 59 signs. The variants might be precursors to Elamite, the writing system used on the Iranian plateau in the late third millennium B.C. They could also be unrelated or, as some have said, fakes. Madjidzadeh vows to return in 2008 to uncover more tablets and silence his critics.

Go to the next article: 79. Salamander Tongue Strikes Like A Crossbow

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Discover Magazine Logo
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!


Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

To The Magazine

Save up to 40% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2024 Kalmbach Media Co.