Científicos están por descifrar la escritura más antigua hasta ahora encontrada


 
– El sistema de escritura más antiguo por descifrar, a un paso de desvelar sus secretos
 
– Científicos están por descifrar la escritura más antigua hasta ahora encontrada
 
– Breakthrough in world’s oldest undeciphered writing  

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El sistema de escritura más antiguo por descifrar, a un paso de desvelar sus secretos

Los científicos se muestran optimistas ante los avances logrados con un dispositivo que capta imágenes en alta resolución.

Fuente: La Vanguardia

Escritura proto-elemita BBC

Barcelona. (Redacción).- El sistema de escritura más antiguo por descifrar, que hasta ahora ha desafiado los intentos de descubrir sus secretos de 5.000 años de antigüedad, podría estar a punto de ser decodificado por profesores de la Universidad de Oxford, informa la BBC.

Este proyecto de investigación internacional ya está echando luz sobre una sociedad perdida de la edad de bronce en Oriente Medio en la que los esclavos vivían de raciones cercanas al nivel de inanición.

El motivo de este avance en la investigación es un dispositivo que proporciona las imágenes más detalladas y de calidad más alta jamás tomadas de estos símbolos elusivos cortados en tablas de arcilla.

Este dispositivo está ayudando a la decodificación de un sistema de escritura llamado proto-elamita, que se utilizó entre alrededor del 3200 aC y el 2900 aC en una región situada en el suroeste de Irán.

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Científicos están por descifrar la escritura más antigua hasta ahora encontrada

Investigadores oxonienses están a punto de decodificar un antiguo sistema de escritura que data de hace 5 mil años que es, hasta ahora, una maraña de símbolos aparentemente sencillos a simple vista, pero que en contexto esconden grandes significados.

Fuente: pijamasurf.com


Los científicos han comenzado a centrar su atención en una sociedad perdida de la edad de bronce que localizada en Medio Oriente, donde, al parecer habitaban esclavos en condiciones precarias y utilizaron este medio como un testimonio para transmitir su vivencias a generaciones futuras.

“Creo que, finalmente, estamos a punto de avanzar”, dijo Jacob Dahl, miembro de Wolfson College, Oxford y director del Ancient World Research Cluster.

De acuerdo a fuentes cercanas, el “arma secreta” del Dahl es capaz de mostrar la escritura como nunca antes alguna tecnología lo había hecho. Esta “arma”, como si fuese un artefacto sustraído de un relato de ciencia ficción, proporcionó una nitidez irreal de estos símbolos elusivos cortados en las tablas de arcilla.

La escritura, denominada Proto-Alamita, fue utilizada entre el 3200 a.C. y 2900 a.C. en una región que ahora se encuentra en el suroeste de Irán.

Para este exhaustivo análisis, las tablas de arcilla fueron insertadas en un Transformador del Sistema de Imágenes de Reflectancia, un dispositivo que logra combinar 76 luces fotográficas con un procesador de computadora que logra capturar cada ranura y muesca de las tablas de arcilla. Esto permite mirar al objeto desde todos los ángulos posibles, como si estuviese levantado por la luz.

Se espera que en los próximos meses las imágenes estén a disposición del público en general y de expertos en la materia, ya que, mientras más personas tengan acceso a ellas, será más rápido conocer el significado de los trazos.

Para Dahl el trabajo no ha sido fácil, aun con 10 años de estudio sobre este tema, continúa la incógnita sobre palabras básicas como “vaca” o “ganado”, aunque, asegura haber descifrado más de 1200 señales.

La complejidad de decodificar este lenguaje se refiere a la gran diferencia que hay con cualquier otro estilo de escritura antigua, ya que no existen textos bilingües ni otros indicios que lleven a “la verdad”, de otra manera serían simples círculos, símbolos y guiones. Se trata de un sistema de escritura y no de un lenguaje hablado, por lo que no hay manera de saber cómo sonaban las palabras, lo que pudo haber dado ciertas claves fonéticas.

Según el Dr. Dahl, este descubrimiento es una de las mayores trascendencias históricas en el campo de la escritura: hasta ahora, este es el primer caso registrado de una sociedad que adopta la escritura de un grupo vecino. Cuando los proto-elemitas adquirieron el sistema de escritura mesopotámica, estos, a su vez, crearon un conjunto de símbolos totalmente distintos. Hasta el momento, el porqué de este cambio de escritura sigue siendo, para Dahl y su equipo ,un enigma.

En términos del lenguaje escrito, se trata de un pasado muy lejano. Sin embargo, hay evidencias claras sobre su origen, como marcas de uñas en las tablas que, sin duda, se trata de acuñaciones hechas por una mente inteligente.

Sin conocer todos los símbolos, Dahl dice poder aproximarse al origen de los trazos. El sistema de numeración se entiende, por lo que es posible deducir que se trata de un sistema de contabilidad sobre la tierra y la gente; a pesar de ser una serie de figuras de animales y distintas criaturas, Dahl afirma que no hay ninguna figura que haga ilusión a algún ser humano.

El Dr. Dahl afirma que dentro de un par de años, finalmente se sabrán todos los secretos que esconden las tablas de arcilla.

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Breakthrough in world’s oldest undeciphered writing

The world’s oldest undeciphered writing system, which has so far defied attempts to uncover its 5,000-year-old secrets, could be about to be decoded by Oxford University academics.

By Sean Coughlan

Fuente: BBC

Experts working on proto-Elamite hope they are on the point of ‘a breakthrough’

This international research project is already casting light on a lost bronze age middle eastern society where enslaved workers lived on rations close to the starvation level.

“I think we are finally on the point of making a breakthrough,” says Jacob Dahl, fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford and director of the Ancient World Research Cluster.

Dr Dahl’s secret weapon is being able to see this writing more clearly than ever before.

In a room high up in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, above the Egyptian mummies and fragments of early civilisations, a big black dome is clicking away and flashing out light.

This device, part sci-fi, part-DIY, is providing the most detailed and high quality images ever taken of these elusive symbols cut into clay tablets. This is Indiana Jones with software.

This way of capturing images, developed by academics in Oxford and Southampton, is being used to help decode a writing system called proto-Elamite, used between around 3200BC and 2900BC in a region now in the south west of modern Iran.

And the Oxford team think that they could be on the brink of understanding this last great remaining cache of undeciphered texts from the ancient world.

Tablet computer

Dr Dahl, from the Oriental Studies Faculty, shipped his image-making device on the Eurostar to the Louvre Museum in Paris, which holds the most important collection of this writing.

Jacob Dahl wants the public and other academics to help with an online decipherment of the texts

The clay tablets were put inside this machine, the Reflectance Transformation Imaging System, which uses a combination of 76 separate photographic lights and computer processing to capture every groove and notch on the surface of the clay tablets.

It allows a virtual image to be turned around, as though being held up to the light at every possible angle.

These images will be publicly available online, with the aim of using a kind of academic crowdsourcing.

He says it’s misleading to think that codebreaking is about some lonely genius suddenly understanding the meaning of a word. What works more often is patient teamwork and the sharing of theories. Putting the images online should accelerate this process.

But this is painstaking work. So far Dr Dahl has deciphered 1,200 separate signs, but he says that after more than 10 years study much remains unknown, even such basic words as “cow” or “cattle”.

He admits to being “bitten” by this challenge. “It’s an unknown, uncharted territory of human history,” he says.

Extinct language

But why has this writing proved so difficult to interpret?

Dr Dahl suspects he might have part of the answer. He’s discovered that the original texts seem to contain many mistakes – and this makes it extremely tricky for anyone trying to find consistent patterns.

He believes this was not just a case of the scribes having a bad day at the office. There seems to have been an unusual absence of scholarship, with no evidence of any lists of symbols or learning exercises for scribes to preserve the accuracy of the writing.

This first case of educational underinvestment proved fatal for the writing system, which was corrupted and then completely disappeared after only a couple of hundred years. “It’s an early example of a technology being lost,” he says.

“The lack of a scholarly tradition meant that a lot of mistakes were made and the writing system may eventually have become useless.”

Making it even harder to decode is the fact that it’s unlike any other ancient writing style. There are no bi-lingual texts and few helpful overlaps to provide a key to these otherwise arbitrary looking dashes and circles and symbols.

This is a writing system – and not a spoken language – so there’s no way of knowing how words sounded, which might have provided some phonetic clues.

Dr Dahl says that one of the really important historical significances of this proto-Elamite writing is that it was the first ever recorded case of one society adopting writing from another neighbouring group.

But infuriatingly for the codebreakers, when these proto-Elamites borrowed the concept of writing from the Mesopotamians, they made up an entirely different set of symbols.

Why they should make the intellectual leap to embrace writing and then at the same time re-invent it in a different local form remains a puzzle.

But it provides a fascinating snapshot of how ideas can both spread and change.

Mr One Hundred

In terms of written history, this is the very remote past. But there is also something very direct and almost intimate about it too.

You can see fingernail marks in the clay. These neat little symbols and drawings are clearly the work of an intelligent mind.

A set of 76 lights are used in the capturing of images of surface marks in the ancient tablets

These were among the first attempts by our human ancestors to try to make a permanent record of their surroundings. What we’re doing now – my writing and your reading – is a direct continuation.

But there are glimpses of their lives to suggest that these were tough times. It wasn’t so much a land of milk and honey, but porridge and weak beer.

Even without knowing all the symbols, Dr Dahl says it’s possible to work out the context of many of the messages on these tablets.

The numbering system is also understood, making it possible to see that much of this information is about accounts of the ownership and yields from land and people. They are about property and status, not poetry.

This was a simple agricultural society, with a ruling household. Below them was a tier of powerful middle-ranking figures and further below were the majority of workers, who were treated like “cattle with names”.

Their rulers have titles or names which reflect this status – the equivalent of being called “Mr One Hundred”, he says – to show the number of people below him.

It’s possible to work out the rations given to these farm labourers.

Dr Dahl says they had a diet of barley, which might have been crushed into a form of porridge, and they drank weak beer.

The amount of food received by these farm workers hovered barely above the starvation level.

However the higher status people might have enjoyed yoghurt, cheese and honey. They also kept goats, sheep and cattle.

For the “upper echelons, life expectancy for some might have been as long as now”, he says. For the poor, he says it might have been as low as in today’s poorest countries.

The tablets also have surprises. Even though there are plenty of pictures of animals and mythical creatures, Dr Dahl says there are no representations of the human form of any kind. Not even a hand or an eye.

Was this some kind of cultural or religious taboo?

Dr Dahl remains passionate about what this work says about such societies, digging into the deepest roots of civilisation. This is about where so much begins. For instance, proto-Elamite was the first writing ever to use syllables.

If Macbeth talked about the “last syllable of recorded time”, the proto-Elamites were there for the first.

And with sufficient support, Dr Dahl says that within two years this last great lost writing could be fully understood.

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One Comment to “Científicos están por descifrar la escritura más antigua hasta ahora encontrada”

  1. Heya just stumbled upon your website via Yahoo after I
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    or perhaps something similar (can’t quite remember exactly). In any case, I’m glad I found it simply because your content is exactly what I’m looking for (writing a university paper) and I hope you don’t mind if I gather some information from here and I will of course credit you as the reference.
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    —————————————————
    Heya tropezó con su sitio web a través de Yahoo después que entró en “Científicos están por descifrar la escritura más antigua hasta ahora encontrada | Dossier El Gran Fundamento”o tal vez algo similar (no me recuerda exactamente). En cualquier caso, me alegro, simplemente porque su contenido es exactamente lo que estoy buscando (escribir un documento de la Universidad) y espero que no te importa si reúnen información de aquí y por supuesto crédito como referencia.Muchas gracias.

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