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Red runes carved from wood on the ground. There are 24 runes in the Elder Futhark.

Futhark: Mysterious Ancient Runic Alphabet of Northern Europe

Runes are the characters of the earliest written alphabet used by the Germanic peoples of Europe called Futhark. The runic alphabet was used within Germanic languages but primarily in Nordic...
Egyptian Hieroglyphs: The Language of the Gods

Egyptian Hieroglyphs: The Language of the Gods

Egyptian hieroglyphs are among the oldest writing systems in the world, dating back some 5,200 years. Known in ancient Egyptian as the “language of the gods” and said to have been created by the god...
Closeup of glyphs on a Mayan calendar. Credit: zimmytws / Adobe Stock

Artificial Intelligence Inching Closer to Deciphering Long Lost Languages

With new technology available to us, we’re inching closer to the end of the days when deciphering ancient languages is a painstaking task filled with frustration and confusion. Nifty machines...
Representational image of high priestess and poet Enheduanna.

Enheduanna: High Priestess of the Moon and the First Known Author

The ancient Sumerian poet Enheduanna has a unique claim to fame: she was the first author in the world known by name. While there were previous instances of poems and stories written down, Enheduanna...
The head of a Buddha statue. Credit: Richard / Adobe Stock. Inset: Fragments of a birch bark manuscript from ancient Gandhara. Credit: British Library (public domain)

Scholars Get Closer to Words of Buddha as They Unravel Oldest Buddhist Scrolls in the World

The oldest Buddhist scrolls ever discovered were made on birch bark and spent two millennia folded in clay pots, in a cave, situated along the northern border of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and now...
The mysterious inscription was found on a rock in the French village of Plougastel-Daoulas

Mysterious Inscription Baffles French Village, Prize Offered to Crack the Code

A recently discovered engraving is baffling local people in the small village in north-west France. The locals have made various attempts to decipher the inscription and have enlisted the help of...
Sumerian tablets, Sumerian script is known as cuneiform. Source: Pixabay/ CC0

Sumerian Tablets: A Deeper Understanding of the Oldest Known Written Language

The Sumerian language was developed in ancient Mesopotamia and is the oldest known written language. This language was written in a script known as cuneiform, which was later adapted by other...
Assyrian Cuneiform

Deciphering Cuneiform to Get a Handle on Life in Ancient Mesopotamia

Cuneiform is a system of writing that was invented by the Sumerians of ancient Mesopotamia. Believed to have been created sometime during the 4th millennium BC (between 3500 and 3000 BC), this script...
Portion of Ibn Sīna’s Canon of Medicine folded into medieval text

Irish Translation of Ibn Sīna Medical Text Discovered in Medieval Book Binding

A recent discovery is demonstrating the influence of Islamic medicine on European physicians. A fragment from a book dating from the 1400s has revealed the influence of a Muslim Persian polymath on...
Early man looking up at the stars (Kovalenko I / Adobe Stock)

Translation of 5,500-Year-Old Babel Text from China Reveals Oldest Known Map of Inner Solar System

It is obvious to any astronomer that some of the brightest objects in the night sky are the planets. It is thus mysterious that there are so few references to the planets in ancient literature. Prior...
Aberlemno Pictish Stone, Scotland

Signed, Sealed and Delivered: ‘Savage’ Pictish Warriors of Scottish Highlands Had Written Language

The Picts were an ancient race of people that inhabited the northern territories of what is known today as Scotland. Recorded as uncultured savages in defamatory Roman accounts, new findings suggest...
A Blombos Cave with ochre pencil on silcrete stone thought to be the earliest drawing.

Discovery of the Earliest Drawing – By at Least 30,000 years

What is a symbol? This is a tough question to answer when tasked with analyzing the earliest graphic productions. What we might today interpret as figurative representations might just be an ancient...
From the royal tombs of Ur, the Standard of Ur mosaic, made of lapis lazuli and shell, shows peacetime.

A Functional and Fertile Crescent: Technological Advancements in the Cradle of Civilization

The Fertile Crescent is the name given to the arc-shaped area of land that stretched across the Middle East from the northern end of the Gulf in the East to the Nile Valley in the West. It was here...
Colossal statue of Amenhotep III in the British Museum. (Public Domain) Background: Detail of Amarna letter: Royal Letter from Abi-milku of Tyre to the king of Egypt. (CC0)

To the King, My Sun, My God, the Breath of My Life… Amarna Letters Paint Remarkable Picture of Ancient Egyptian Rulership

“Your city weeps, and her tears are running, and there is no help for us. For 20 years we have been sending to our lord, the king, the king of Egypt, but there has not come to us a word from our lord...
A clay tablet with an engraved inscription has been discovered at the archaeological site of Olympia in Greece. It contains 13 verses of a rhapsody from Homer’s Odyssey.

Clay Tablet Found at Olympia May Be the Oldest Excerpt from Homer’s Odyssey

Archaeologists excavating the ancient site of Olympia, one of the largest archaeological sites in Greece, have found a rare and important artifact – a clay tablet inscribed with 13 verses of a...
Agastyar, Father and Chairman of first Tamil Sangams, Madurai, Pandiya Kingdom. (CC BY SA 2.5) Detail of ancient Tamil script found on the temple walls of the Tanjore Bragadeeshwara temple.

Sangam Literature: These Tantalizing Tales Offer a Window into Ancient Tamil Life

“In their antiquity and in their contemporaneity, there is not much else in any Indian literature equal to these quiet and dramatic Tamil poems. In their values and stances, they represent a mature...

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