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Newly Discovered Tablet Fragment is Oldest Example of Written Language


Update: An earlier version of this story stated it was the earliest example of writing in the world. It is actually the oldest found in the Jerusalem area.

A current archeological project outside of the Old City walls in Jerusalem has uncovered the oldest example of written language ever found in the city. The clay fragment seen above was dated by researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as being from the 14th century B.C.E., which shows that Jerusalem was an important hub of civilization long before King David came along.

The fragment was found in the buried ruins of a tower dating from the 10th century B.C.E., during the King Solomon era. The current theory is that it was part of some form of royal historical archives. The fragment is massively important, but quite small in size.The clay chip is just 2 centimeters by 2.8 centimeters, and just 1 centimeter thick. The writing upon it is in the ancient language of Akkadian, which was the bridge language of the time.

Professor Wayne Horowitz, a scholar of Assyriology at the Hebrew University Institute of Archaeology, was in charge of discovering the meaning of the tablet segment. According to Horowitz, it includes symbols for the words “you,” “you were,” “later,” “to do” and “them.” But what Horowitz says actually matters much more than the meaning is the style. The words are well scripted, indicating that this may have been the work of a royal scribe, making this part of a royal decree or message.

(Via PhysOrg)

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