Thursday, September 14

Oldest Writing in New World Discovered

Even things written in stone can be forgotten. Here's my latest story, from National Geographic News:

A writing system lost for 3,000 years has been rediscovered on an ancient stone tablet in Mexico, archaeologists say.

The tablet is the earliest example of writing in the New World, pushing back the origins of writing in the region by several hundred years, according to a paper that will appear in tomorrow's edition of the journal Science.

Most likely, the Olmec people, who once lived along the Gulf of Mexico, created the tablet, the researchers say.

The Olmecs, famed for their colossal statues of heads, are generally regarded as the first true civilization in the Americas.

Until now no one had ever found concrete evidence of Olmec writing.

"The rediscovery of ancient writing systems is one of the rarest events in archaeology," said Stephen Houston, an archaeologist at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, who helped interpret the tablet's markings. "It's a very momentous find."

But many archaeologists are adopting a wait-and-see attitude, reserving judgment on the tablet's importance....

Read more on the National Geographic News site

UPDATE: I started a Wikipedia page on the Cascajal block right after my story went live. It was fun to check back now, 7 hours later, and see how people have already edited it and added quite a bit to the page.


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