Tag Archive: Wisconsin



What Are the Symbols on the Wisconsin U.S.A. Shard & What Might They Mean?

PART B: LINGUISTIC IMPLICATIONS:

A Shard from Wisconsin, U.S.A. Click to ENLARGE):

SNAKE LADY

James R. Heath, who unearthed the Wisconsin shard, has this to say about the symbols (whatever they are) on the shard:

As you might see, in the upper left corner; three symbols. Certainly distinguishable is the symbol ‘u’, appears, with the ‘boat’ ideogram. Preceding the symbol for ‘u’ is the first character shaped like the letter ‘C’... passim … what does the obtrusive “S”, in the middle; mean? Is it an S?

I’m not going to pretend to translate, just show anyone willing to view this piece; there is more to discover at this site.

Please present your arguments, I can only tell you where I unearthed them, not who or why they were made.

James

___________________________________________________________________________________

In response to James’ comments above, I would like to make this observation first, that it is not a question of arguments we should be focusing on in this particular case of an archeological find which may turn out to be of some true significance once it is carbon-dated, simply because there is nothing to “argue” about, even in the strictly academic understanding of this word, argumenta (Latin), an argument in the sense of proof. Yet it is clear that with respect to these findings, the Wisconsin tablet and shard, no proof of any kind is yet forthcoming, pending substantiation of the findings by carbon-dating and, if possible, examination by petrological microscope, as our resident archaeologist, Rita Roberts, who specializes in Minoan ware, has urged be done.

On the linguistic level, however, I believe I am on much firmer ground.  What becomes immediately obvious when we compare all of the 70-odd basic values of the Linear B syllabary with the symbols (whatever they are) on both the Wisconsin tablet and shard, is that none of the Linear B syllabograms and homophones, which in fact are writing, correspond in any meaningful way with any of the symbols on the Wisconsin tablet and shard, with the possible exception of symbol B on the Wisconsin tablet, which looks remarkably like the Linear B syllabogram ZO and C&F on the Wisconsin tablet, which appears to be similar to the syllabogram, the vowel I in Linear B. Other than that, we come up empty-handed. Here is the basic Linear B syllabary set (Click to ENLARGE): 

Wisconsin Tablet Linear B and Minoan

This is, as I have already pointed out in a previous post, a serious impediment to cross-correlating the symbols (whatever they are) on the Wisconsin tablet and shard with absolutely any and all Linear B syllabograms, homophones, logograms and ideograms. Although I have not illustrated the Linear B logograms and ideograms in the table above, since there are far too many of them, I can assure you that none of them, with the sole exception of the Linear B ideogram for “month”, corresponds in any meaningful way with any of the symbols on the Wisconsin tablet and shard.
There is also no ideogram for “boat” in Linear B.
If anything, this renders any attempt cross-correlation between the Wisconsin symbols and the entire Linear B script corpus a futile exercise at best. Readers of our blog can see the Linear B ideogram for themselves on Linear B tablet KN 162a D b 01, Scripta Minoa, on the post, A KEY TO THE MINOAN ECONOMY? An emphatic YES. 21,904 sheep in one place? Guess where...

However, what has really unsettled me right from the outset, when I first viewed the Wisconsin tablet and then subsequently, the Wisconsin shard, is that no less than 4 of the symbols look uncannily like alpha-numerics in the Latin alphabet, namely, C S U and 5. Their appearance on either one or the other of the Wisconsin finds actually spooks me. It strikes me as very peculiar indeed that no less than 4 symbols out of a total of at best a score or so actually look painfully like alpha-numeric Latin characters. I simply cannot wrap my head around this. I have yet to see any ancient script from anywhere in the Mediterranean, the Mid-East and India which includes any more than 2 or 3 symbols at best that look almost exactly or even approximately like any alpha-numeric Latin characters. This is probably the one characteristic of the Wisconsin tablet and shard which scares me off more than anything else. Should it turn out that the tablet is carbon-dated to the any historical era post dating the birth of Christ (anno domini = AD), say, for instance, to the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries AD, the symbols would then become rather more explicable. They could in fact turn out to be exactly what they look like, the letters C S & U and the number 5. But what could that possibly imply? Well, I am not entirely sure, but it could mean that the tablet and the shard, even though perfectly authentic, were a latter-day, early modern exercise in magical, alchemy or occult symbols or glyphs, secret cyphers or esoteric arcane runes such as the so-called “Theban” alphabet, a mystical script used to conceal meanings or make signs, blessings or cursings: 

Theban script 

Yet again, this arcane German script, 250 years old, also shares some symbols in common with the Wisconsin script and, quite by accident of course, 3 with Linear B (annotated with an asterisk): 
arcane German script 250 years old 

All of this may just be a figment of my imagination, but I simply cannot brush aside my own misgivings. On the other hand, pending carbon dating, there is simply no way on earth we can verify whether or not the Wisconsin tablet and shard are a relatively recent or more ancient phenomenon. If carbon-dating should prove that these fragments are indeed ancient, then my misgivings are just that, misgivings, and nothing more. If the Wisconsin tablet and shard are ancient, by which I mean at least a millennium old, then my concerns about thee symbols C S U & 5 looking eerily like alpha-numerics fly right out the window. I believe I have quite exhausted any and all observations I could possibly make on the Wisconsin tablet and shard. So I will have to leave it at that. In the meantime, all the three of us, James, Rita and I, can do now is patiently await the results of carbon-dating.

Richard

Where Does the Wisconson U.S.A Shard Come From?


The Wisconsin  U.S.A.  shard  brought to our notice by James Heath is a mystery. There are symbols evident on the shard looking similar to Minoan script writings. However, taking into account your intensive Linear B study Richard both you and I have our doubts. So may I first ask James if this shard is in fact pottery ?  I ask this because terracotta pottery is just that, a sand/rusty color, whereas on the photo  the color looks  grey and looks more like stone. So without seeing this shard as it were, in my hand its difficult. So James I need you to clarify this. If it is definitely pottery then I urge you to have this shard carbon dated by someone at the Wisconsin University or any Archaeological center you may know of in your area. Also ceramic petrography is recommended,  whereby a thin section is taken from the shard and placed under a petrological  microscope which shows any inclusions such as, any rock fragments, minerals etc., which have been fired into the pottery. This usually gives some idea of the location the shard originally came from. This done we may have a chance of being able to date this shard more closely.

Rita Roberts

 

 

 


What Are the Symbols on the Wisconsin U.S.A. Shard & What Might They Mean?

PART A: ARCHEOLOGICAL IMPLICATIONS:

A Shard from Wisconsin, U.S.A. (A: Top Left), Minoan Pottery (B, C & D) Click to ENLARGE:

WisconsinshardandMinoanpottery

Is the shard from a giant storage container something like the Minoan pithos?

In response to James’ newest post, illustrating a shard from Wisconsin, allow me to make the following observations and comments. In the first place, leaving aside all consideration of pictographs or script (whatever the symbols are on this shard), from a strictly archaeological point of view, the shard seems to conform most closely in its apparent thickness to the giant Minoan pithoi or storage jars found at Knossos. These pithoi are huge (I know, I have seen them myself). They were used to store such commodities as wine, grain, olive oil etc. This observation might lead us to the conclusion that the Wisconsin shard is also from a North American vessel of the approximate configuration of a pithos, but there is really no way to know. What I am saying is simply this: just because the shard looks as if it is approximately the same thickness as a Minoan pithos does not necessarily mean that it comes from a pithos at all.  What kind of vessel it comes from I simply cannot tell. Since I am a linguist, and not an archaeologist, I leave it up to Rita Roberts, our resident archaeologist, and specialist in Minoan wares, to shed further light on this issue. It is not up to me to draw any conclusions either way (or any way, for that matter), due to my ignorance of the archaeological implications of such ancient artifacts, no matter what their provenance, Asian, Australasian, Mediterranean, European, North or South American etc.  

I have eliminated the other examples (B & C) of Minoan pottery in the illustration above for the simple reason that they appear to be too thin. But here again, I may very well be deceived by appearances. Only Rita Roberts is qualified to determine whether the apparent thickness of the Wisconsin shard falls within the parameters of thickness for Minoan pithoi, and in order for her to accomplish this, she would need a precise measurement of the thickness of the Wisconsin shard from James. So James and Rita, the ball is in your court.

Snake Goddess or Priestess or...?

Click to ENLARGE:

Minoan Egyptian Hindu snake goddesses

As for the appearance of what looks like a snake goddess or priestess or someone of that kind on the Wisconsin shard, may I make the following observations? It all boils down to one thing: there were snake goddesses all over the place in the ancient world, as can be seen above. However, in all fairness to James, the Minoans were the most obsessed of all ancient civilizations with the worship of the snake goddess, so there is a very remote possibility that the snake goddess or snake priestess or whatever the symbol on the Wisconsin shard might be of Minoan origin, but I for one certainly would not count on that. Just because a snake symbol on an archaeological artifact from one part of the world (Wisconsin, U.S.A) looks like a similar symbol on an artifact from another, far-off region of the world, does not imply that they are (even remotely) the “same” symbol or, and this is even more critical, that they are from the (relatively) “same” historical period, as I go on to elaborate in the next section, carbon-dating.          	

The Absolute Necessity for Carbon-Dating (yet again):

On the other hand, as I pointed out in a previous post, the necessity for carbon-dating is absolutely paramount for both the tablet and the shard. Although carbon-dating is most likely to reveal that they both originate from the same pre-historical or historical period, there is still the possibility that they do not, and in that case, we would find ourselves at an impasse yet again. Without carbon-dating, however, there is simply no way to come close to an accurate determination of the approximate historical timeline within which these artifacts fall. Moreover, given that we are dealing with an enormous timeline, from paleolithic to as recent as the early modern era, when North American aboriginals still held sway all over the North American content (say, from as early as 10,000 BCE to as late as the 18th. century AD), the chances that these artifacts would actually fall within the timeline of the Minoan civilization (ca. 1900 – 1200 BCE, or about 700 years) is about 1/17, if we operate solely from this hypothesis, excluding all others, namely, that the total timeline rounds out to about 12 millennia (12,000 years, BCE to AD).  If we were to extend the timeline further back in time, the odds would get even worse. If we were to restrict the timeline to, say, 5,000 BCE until today, the timeline is still 7 millennia, leaving us with odds of about 1/10, which is to say that there is still a 90% chance that the Wisconsin artifacts do not fall within the entire timeline of the Minoan/Mycenaean civilization, i.e. 1,900 – 1,200 BCE (700 years).  There is simply no way around this road block, unless we do carbon-dating, and even then, the chances that the Wisconsin artifacts are contemporary with the Minoan/Mycenaean era are still only 1 in 10, in the best case scenario, or 1 in 17 in a more realistic timeline of 12,000 years.

Chronological and Geographic Considerations:

Moreover, even if carbon-dating of the Wisconsin artifacts does result in an approximate timeline of something like 2,000 – 1,000 BCE, this is only an indication that the Wisconsin artifacts versus any and all artifacts of the Minoan/Mycenaean civilization share the same timeline, give or take a few centuries (!), and nothing more. In other words, we are dealing with rough chronological simultaneity, but beyond that, what else can we say?  Add to this the fact that, even if carbon-dating should result in an almost perfect chronological alignment, we are still faced with such an enormous geographical distance between the sites (Wisconsin, U.S.A. versus Crete) that the chances of these two far-flung sites sharing the “same” or similar civilization are very remote indeed. I hasten to add that Minoan ships, with their extremely low gunwales and profile, were suitable only for navigation in the Mediterranean in the spring and summer only, trade routes pretty much lying dormant for the winter.  Here we see two images of a Cycladic/Minoan/Cretan ship, one a model and the other a fresco. Click to ENLARGE:

Minoan Ship and Fresco

Note the extremely low gunwales. James, being a former naval officer, as I recall, fully appreciates the implications of such a configuration for seaworthiness on the high Atlantic. After all, if the Wisconsin artifacts are conceivably Minoan, Cypriot or of a related Mediterranean civilization, the people had to cross the Atlantic even to get to the Eastern shores of North America, let alone having to trek another 3,000 kilometres or more to get to Wisconsin!   

Yet, for all I have to say here, it is not up to me to draw any conclusions in the archaeological sphere, as I am not qualified to do so. I leave that task to our esteemed colleague, Rita Roberts.

The Pre-Historical or Historical Significance of the Wisconsin Artifacts in their own right: 

On a final note, regardless of the timeline of the Wisconsin artifacts, once verified by carbon-dating, they are bound to be of great historical significance in and of themselves, without the need to take into account reference to any other ancient or more recent civilization whatsoever. This is the prime consideration I believe James should keep uppermost in mind. Again, it is up to Rita to confirm or dissent on this point, but it strikes me that any and all major archaeological finds, regardless of where in the world they are unearthed, must perforce be evaluated in their own geological, historical and geographic context, as telling sign posts to the very civilization they represent, and to none other. To illustrate: just because the Minoan civilization was contemporaneous with much of the ancient Egyptian does not mean they were the same or even similar civilization, regardless of geographical proximity, because they were not. The same could be said for the Sumerian and Hittite Empires, also co-existent with the Minoan/Mycenaean. And yet all of these Empires were situated smack dab in the same geographical area of the world!... not 10s of thousands of kilometres apart.

I shall turn my attention to address the linguistic implications of the Wisconsin tablet and shard in the next post.

Richard



The Wisconsin U.S.A. Tablet – Is it Minoan? PART B: Cross-Linguistic Comparison with the Indus Valley Harappan Script, 2,600 BCE

Firmly keeping in mind, and if at all possible, downloading and displaying my annotated version of the Wisconsin Tablet, so that you can view it alongside my annotated illustration of the Harappan script, I urge you to carefully consider the points I raise below, with reference to them both, as well as yet again to the early Cretan script, and to Linear A, B & C, allowing for a cross-comparative symbolic linguistic analysis of a total of no less than 6 ancient scripts, of which 3 are syllabic, 2 are in ancient Greek (Linear B and C), and 4 are undeciphered, the Wisconsin Tablet, the Harappan ad early Cretan scripts and the Linear a syllabary, all of which span an enormous historical timeline of 2,200 years, from ca. 2,600 – ca 400 BCE. Before we proceed any further, let us take a good close look at the Harappan script (Click to ENLARGE):

Harappan Wisconsin Tablet and Mediterranean Scripts

which predates all of the other scripts, except for the Wisconsin Tablet, which itself apparently is not even approximately dated for a timeline, by at least 500 years (from 2,600 BCE onwards), the early Cretan script running as it does from ca 1,900 – ca. 1,600 BCE. I have resorted to invoking the Indus Valley or Harappan script for precisely this reason, that I wanted to be certain that we end up dealing with various scripts and syllabaries spanning a huge timeline of some 2,200 years, making it literally impossible to correlate the symbols or syllabograms in any of these scripts, including the Wisconsin, in any meaningful fashion, without trapping ourselves in a quagmire of irresolvable contradictions and in a blatant reductio ad absurdum. It is abundantly clear that all 6 of these scripts share at least a couple of symbols, if not several, in common, while at the same time, these very same symbols are totally undecipherable in 4 of the scripts, the Wisconsin, Harappan, early Cretan scripts, and in the Linear A syllabary, for which we know most of the values, these being either close to identical or identical to those in Linear B, at least where they overlap. And that is not always, given that Linear A has considerably more syllabograms and ideograms than Linear B. Unfortunately, this means that a large portion of Linear A is not only undecipherable, but that many of its syllabograms and ideograms are still totally impermeable to us at the present juncture.

Of course, all of this amounts to, shall we say, one hell of a mess, given that even where the some of symbols, syllabograms and ideograms in any of these 6 scripts either closely resemble one another or are identical to one another, they are either completely undecipherable and beyond our ken, or have been almost completely deciphered (with a few queer exceptions in the 2 Greek scripts, Mycenaean Linear B, ca. 1500 – 1200 BCE, and its closest historical cousin or offspring, if you will, Arcado-Cypriot, written in Linear C from ca. 1100 – ca. 400 BCE). My point is simply this, that it is very nearly impossible arrive at any reasonable correlation of any of these symbols or syllabograms in any of these 6 scripts, even when they match up perfectly, with the sole exception of Linear A & B, which after all were employed by one and the same civilization, the Minoan, without a perceptible break, from ca. 1,800 to ca. 1,200 BCE, i.e. over 600 years, and – get this! - even though though they actually overlap, undeciphered Linear A being in continual use from ca. 1,800 – ca. 1,400 BCE, and Linear B, which was the syllabary for the earliest East Greek dialect, Mycenaean Greek, from ca. 1,500 – ca. 1,200 BCE, making for a century or so when they were in bed together.

This throws yet another wrench into our linguistic equation. Since it makes perfect sense for the Minoan scribes to continue using a simpler variant of Linear A in Linear B, why on earth would the same scribes continue to resort to Linear A alongside of Linear B for a period of at least a century (1,500 – 1,400 BCE)? This might appear to be a flat contradiction in terms, but in fact, it is highly doubtful that it is, since after all, nowadays we use the Latin script for many European languages, some of which held sway over all the others for considerable periods, for instance, Italian from ca. 1200 – ca. 1550 AD, French from ca. 1500 to ca. 1700 AD (again overlapping), and English, from ca. 1500 AD to the present, once again overlapping with Italian and French. In other words, all three of these modern languages held the ascendancy in tandem with at least one other at the same time, while English has been at the top of the heap since at least the beginning of the 20th. century.  

Likewise, there were eminently practical reasons for Minoan Linear A and Mycenaean Linear B to have been in use concomitantly for about 100 years or so, since after all, they used pretty much the same script, even if the former is undeciphered today, and I emphasize today. However, There can be no doubt whatsoever that the Minoan scribes were perfectly bilingual in this period of about a century, when the two scripts overlapped, and it is perfectly reasonable to assume that the Minoans and Mycenaeans clearly understood one another’s language, which they surely must have. Otherwise, why continue using Linear A alongside Linear B for at least a century? There was no question of their having to decipher the Minoan language, because there was nothing to decipher. The language was then a known one, spoken and written, all during that period. Some scribes and some literates must have not only been familiar with both languages, but perfectly bilingual in both. What a shame we have lost the Minoan language to the Lethe of history, while our dear genius Michael Ventris succeeded, against all odds, in deciphering Linear B as Greek!

But, you are probably asking yourselves, why am I bringing this point up in the first place? Well, it is pretty obvious, I think. We can clearly see that the same syllabary, common to Linear A & B, with minor variations and with a shift to greater simplicity in Linear B, can be used to write two completely unrelated languages, just as the modern Latin script is used for several Indo-European languages, English, French, Spanish, German and so forth, and even some Slavic languages to boot, while at the same time doing perfect service for the Finno-Ugaric languages, Finnish, Estonian, Latvian and Hungarian, which are not Indo-European at all.

On the other hand, as can clearly be observed in our cross-correlation of 6 scripts from Harappan on down to Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, even though a few symbols and syllabograms appear to be in common with at least some of these 6 languages, the pattern is totally haphazard, the result being a meaningless crazy-quilt. The same scenario exists for modern Indo-European languages, of which the majority use the Latin alphabet, while Greek has its own peculiar alphabet predating the Latin, and almost all of the Slavic languages use the Cyrillic (though not all). While the Latin and Cyrillic (accidentally) share some letters in common, Cyrillic has far more in common with Greek. Once again, we find ourselves up against a hodge-podge of alphabets, all of which have some, but scarcely all, letters in common, just as our 6 ancient scripts share some, but scarcely all, of the symbols and syllabograms they – and here again, I lay particular stress on this point – accidentally have in common, with the sole exception of Linear A and Linear B, which form a clear continuum.

Taken to its extreme, this observation leads us to the inevitable conclusion that, regardless or not whether or not any 2 or more languages share the same pictographs, hieroglyphics, ideograms, logograms, syllabograms or alphabets in common, whether almost totally or in more or less part, there is absolutely no guarantee whatsoever that these languages are related in any meaningful way by linguistic family or sub-class. For instance, early Mediterranean, such as early Cretan and Linear A, appear to be closely related, but may very well not be. Meanwhile Linear A, which is used for the Minoan language, remains undeciphered, and in all probability, is in no way related to Greek, including Mycenaean, written in Linear B,even though these scripts are almost identical. We find the same scenario with modern Occidental Indo-European languages versus their Finno-Ugaric counterparts, which are not Indo-European at all, and yet which share the same alphabet, just as Linear A and Linear B share the same syllabary, for all intents and purposes. 

What then does all this imply if not this? - that any and all ancient, including prehistoric, scripts must be deciphered within the ambit of their own hieroglyphics, ideograms, syllabograms or alphabet, whether or not these look (even exactly) like the hieroglyphics, ideograms, syllabograms or alphabet of any other language whatsoever. In other words, forget about the nature of the script in which any undeciphered language is written, whether hieroglyphic, ideogrammatic, syllabogrammatic or alphabetical, and concentrate solely and entirely on endeavouring to decipher it in its own right sui generis, without reference at all to any other language, dead or living. That this is surely the case is made abundantly clear by the co-existence, indeed, entente cordiale, that comfortably existed between the syllabary used for the undeciphered Minoan language written in Linear A and the linguistically completely unrelated language, Mycenaean Greek, written in Linear B, the syllabary which for all intents and purposes was the brain-child of Linear A, which the Minoan scribes clearly adapted to suit their own eminently practical purposes. After all, why re-invent the wheel, and why fix something when it isn’t even broken in the first place? It is precisely for the same reason that the Greek alphabet, which has been in continual use for at least 2,800 years (ca. 800 BCE to the present), the Latin alphabet for at least 2,750 years (from the time of the time of the founding of Rome if not before), and last, but far from least, the much younger Cyrillic alphabet, from the ninth century AD onwards, are all still going gang-busters.

This is precisely why the presence of even a few symbols which look like Linear A or Linear B syllabograms on the Wisconsin Tablet is utterly meaningless.

You could cross-correlate the symbols in God knows how many pre-historic or ancient languages, and still come up with matches or near-matches, but these would be, and in fact, are utterly meaningless, especially where one language dates from as early as 10,000 or 5,000 BCE, having symbols in common with any one or more languages from a (far) later historical period. And they all too frequently do. In a word, the whole exercise of cross-comparing identical, near identical or similar looking symbols, pictographs, hieroglyphics, ideograms, syllabograms or alphabets, whether prehistoric, ancient or modern, is entirely meaningless in determining the nature or linguistic class of any and all of these languages whatsoever.

So any attempt to cross-correlate symbols from one language to another, even where they leap out at us, yelling, hey, I am the “same” symbol in such and such language (for instance that of the Wisconsin Tablet) as in another (for instance, Minoan in Linear A or Mycenaean Greek in Linear B), I regret to say, sadly amounts to a hill of beans, and nothing more.    

Richard
  

The Wisconsin U.S.A. Tablet — Is it Minoan? PART A: Comparison with 4 Ancient Northern Mediterranean Scripts

A Thorough Linguistic Analysis of the Wisconsin Tablet (Click to ENLARGE):

A symbols and syllabograms early Cretan Linear A Linear B Linear C

When I first saw the Wisconsin Tablet, which our friend, E.J. Heath, posted here on our blog, I stood amazed. Staring me in the face were 3 symbols, 2 of which which looked uncannily like 2 syllabograms (B, C&F) common to Linear A & B, and one of which (H) looked like the number 20, again in common with Linear A & B. Well now, that’s a real find, or so it would appear.

But my wonderment quickly faded as I began to closely, then more meticulously, examine its symbols, discovering as I did that only 1 other symbol looked anything like symbols in any early (pre-historic) Northern Mediterranean scripts, that being symbol A on the Wisconsin Tablet, which is identical to the same symbol in the early Cretan script, and closely resembles 2 similar symbols, called syllabograms, in Linear C, the latter being the vowels a & e in that script. But Linear C is a far later historical Greek script, in use continually from ca. 1100 BCE to 400 BCE, alongside the ancient Greek alphabet. And that period is more than likely to be much later than the Wisconsin Tablet. As for the rest of the symbols on the Wisconsin tablet, they bear little or no resemblance at all to the symbols in early Cretan (an undeciphered pictographic or ideographic script), or to the syllabograms in Linear A (which, though undeciphered, shares a great many of its syllabograms in common with deciphered Linear B, or at least shares some features of these), to the 200 or so syllabograms and ideograms in Linear B or yet again to any syllabograms other than the vowels a & e in deciphered Cypro-Minoan Linear C.  

All this leaves me at a complete impasse, and opens a real can of worms. Questions, which are not hypothetical, but historically pregnant, pop up left, right and centre. For instance:

1. How on earth can a tablet unearthed in the north-western U.S.A. reasonably be considered to be Minoan, when its shares symbols in common with 4 different ancient scripts, 2 of them similar to one another (Linear A &  B), but one being undeciphered and the other decidedly Greek (Mycenaean), and the other two completely dissimilar, not only to one another, but also to Linear A & B. Even granted that the 2 symbols (and only 2), and the apparent “number 20” which I can clearly see on the Wisconsin Tablet, which apparently look like their Linear A & B counterparts, are, for the sake of argument, actually those very syllabograms in Linear A & B, this raises another thorny question, how can we be even remotely sure that this is in fact the case, when all of the other symbols on the Wisconsin – I repeat – bear no resemblance with any syllabograms or ideograms in either Linear A or B (and that means 100s of them!). We have landed in a real quagmire. In short, we cannot decipher it under these conditions.  Here is a chart summarizing my findings (Click to ENLARGE):

Early Cretan Linear A B and C

Here are two Linear A tablets, which shed further light on the issue of the Wisconsin tablet sharing (or not) symbols with Linear A syllabograms (Click to ENLARGE):

Linear A numeric & ss reversed

Refer back to the Wisconsin Tablet above for 2 of the symbols highlighted with the same letters (E & H) on both it and these two Linear A tablets.  

2. On the other hand, if we take the stance that the 3 so-called “Minoan” symbols on the Wisconsin Tablet are not Linear A or B syllabograms or numerics – which is a perfectly reasonable assumption to proceed from – then what on earth are they? Are they even syllabograms or numerics? Or are they any one of the following: pictographs, such as we see in the famous Peterborough Pictographs, unearthed near Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, some time ago, or perhaps hieroglyphics, or yet again logographic, ideogrammatic, syllabogrammatic or even, as far fetched as it may seem (and it is) alphabetic? This stretches my poor imagination and my powers of reason almost beyond bearing.

3. When was the Wisconsin Tablet composed? This is an absolutely critical question, because, failing any knowledge of even the approximate date of its composition, the whole thing remains a complete mystery. There are, of course, two tried-and-tested archaeological approaches to getting closer to resolving this vital question, at least to some extent. First of all, has the Wisconsin Tablet been carbon-dated? If it has not, the mystery remains just that, and nothing more. If it has (which apparently seems not to be the case, but hopefully E.J. Heath can enlighten me on this matter), then the carbon-dating is entirely capable of determining whether or not it falls at least somewhere near or within the historical timeline of both Linear A and Linear BC together, i.e. 1,800 – 1,200 BCE. If the carbon-dating proves this to be the case, then at least our friend has a leg to stand on, however shaky. On the other hand, if the carbon-dating should prove that the Wisconsin tablet pre-dates or post-dates the Minoan/Mycenaean era (ca. 1,900 – 1,200 BCE), then it is, even in the very best scenario, highly unlikely that the Wisconsin Tablet is composed in anything like or near to Linear A or B, and the whole hypothesis falls apart like a house of cards. 

4. Another way of establishing the approximate timeline of the Wisconsin tablet is to submit it to as many as possible eminently qualified North American, as well as European and Mediterranean, archaeologists, and eventually to draw up a team of archaeologist to address this sticky issue head on, by which I mean in conference or in writing and online or better still, all. All this would take considerable time, conceivably close to a decade. 

It goes entirely without saying that both of these approaches to attempting to establish the approximate dating of the Wisconsin tablet are absolutely essential to the process of identifying in any way what it is, and can in no wise be omitted. I leave it to our friend E.J. Heath to get in touch with at least a few archaeologists in the field (pardon the pun!) in the U.S.A, first and foremost at the University of Wisconsin itself, to establish the credentials of the Wisconsin Tablet, as it were.

 
5. On yet another level, I am forcibly struck by the curious absence of any other tablet(s), especially in light of the fact that the Minoan scribes writing in both Minoan Linear A and in Mycenaean Greek in Linear B, were completely obsessed with record-keeping, inventories and statistics. While there is a dearth of Linear A tablets still in existence compared with Linear B tablets, there are still plenty enough of them. We can only assume that those Linear A tablets which have disappeared in the maelstrom of history have done so for various reasons bearing on lack of archaeological findings or evidence, which may nevertheless may be corrected, at least to some degree, by potential findings in the future. But there can be no assurance of this. So if we have a few hundred Linear A tablets at our disposal, why is there only 1 single tablet to be found in Wisconsin, when we know perfectly well that the Linear A and Linear B scribes were concerned with one thing and one thing only, keeping exhaustive records, inventories and statistics on absolutely anything and everything that affected their economy?  This surely begs the question: why has only 1 and one only so-called “Minoan” tablet been unearthed in Wisconsin? If as E.J. Heath claims, this tablet is likely to be just that, Minoan, then surely at least a few, if not a few scores of other tablets, or ideally hundreds just like it, should have been unearthed with it.  Since none have, the question is why – and it is a question that must eventually bear answering in some way or another, sooner or later.  

On the other hand, there are literally 1,000s of Linear B Tablets (close to 6,000 at last count), and we can read them! Even if the 3 so-called Linear A & B look-alikes on the Wisconsin Tablet were in fact either Linear A or Linear B, we would still be stuck in the mud, right where we are. Since Linear A is undeciphered, even if 2 of the symbols on the Wisconsin Tablet are in Linear A (which I highly doubt), they too remain undecipherable (with the possible exception of the so-called number 20. For more in this, see infra).

If on the other hand, these are Linear B symbols, i.e. the 2 syllabograms ZO (B) and NO (C& F), along with the apparent numeric = 20?, the tablet is still undecipherable, because we can make no sense of any of the other symbols on it, and in order to decipher it, we must place the apparent Linear B ZO & NO strictly in context with all of the symbols immediately preceding and following them, if indeed these other symbols are syllabograms (which I highly doubt). Remember what I said above, that the symbols on the Wisconsin tablet must all either be pictographics, hieroglyphics, ideograms or (very unlikely) syllabograms, and almost inconceivably letters, but never an admixture of any one of the above, with the possible sole exception of syllabograms and ideograms, which do in fact co-exist happily in Linear A & B. At least we can admit of that. Yet, even with this single exception at our disposal, we will have practically backed ourselves up against a solid brick wall, given that there is a substantial likelihood of the symbols on the Wisconsin Tablet being either pictographs or hieroglyphics.

6. As for that presumed number 20, even if it is a number, is it the number 20, i.. in the tens, or is it a single digit, i.e. 2?  This is no small matter. In several of the ancient and not so ancient scripts, single digit numbers are either denoted by parallel horizontal lines, in which case the tens are designated by parallel vertical lines (if at all), or vice versa, i.e. single digits are vertical parallels and 10s horizontal. The easiest way to illustrate this is by invoking the numbers 1, 2 & 3 in (ichi, ni & san) in Japanese Kanji, which are the exact reverse of the paradigms for numerics in Linear A & B. Whereas Linear A & B denote single digits with vertical parallel lines and 10s with horizontal, Japanese Kanji resorts to the horizontal for single digits, as seen here:

Kanji ichi ni san

All this still leaves us with one unanswered question, which is very much moot. Are these 2 parallel horizontal lines on the Wisconsin tablet either the number 20 or the number 2, or are they numbers at all? Pending decipherment, we can never really know.

To Summarize:

Given all the issues I have raised with respect to the Wisconsin Tablet, I sincerely doubt that it is composed in Linear A or Linear B, or anything remotely like that. This leaves the tablet not only undecipherable, but for now highly resistant to any attempt at decipherment. On the other hand, its discovery is significant. Writing as such, if indeed this is writing we have here on the Wisconsin Tablet, is almost unheard of in the annals of North American aboriginal tribes. Pictographs, such as the Peterborough Pictographs, occasionally appear, and they do contribute to the continuing search for symbolic evidence of North American aboriginal settlements. What strikes me about this particular tablet is that it does not appear to be composed of simple pictographs, but of something – I cannot imagine what – more sophisticated... hieroglyphics or ideograms or... heavens no what? In this light, I greatly encourage E. J. Heath and any and all researchers or aficionados of ancient scripts to pour their efforts into attempting to figure out the nature of the symbols on this fascinating tablet, if not to decipher it outright.

In the next post, I shall raise even more issues and concerns I have with the Wisconsin tablet, or for that matter with any tablet in any undeciphered language anywhere in the ancient pre-historic world. To do so, I shall have recourse to the 417 symbols of the ancient Harappan script of the Indus Valley civilization, which considerably predates by several centuries – ca. 2,600 to ca. 2,000 BCE -all four of the scripts we have held under consideration here (early Cretan, Linear A, Linear B and the historical Greek script, Arcado-Cypriot Linear C). What we will discover with this script is bound to increase, not decrease, the shock we all to often encounter, however valiantly we struggle to decipher any undeciphered ancient pre-historic script, let alone the Wisconsin Tablet.

That said, the fact that the Wisconsin Tablet remains a baffling mystery warrants more than its fair share of attention (whatever that might be), and so I applaud E. J. Heath for posting it here on our blog, and I invite him to counter each of the issues and objections I have raised here, and more of which I shall raise again in the next post, as he feels inclined.

Richard

A brief history of the Wisconsin Stone Tablet region


This area of Wisconsin, prior to any European explorers; was known to have abundant minerals. This fact was noted by the explorer Champlain and his protégé Etienne Brule. Both explorers were versed in Native American language and listened to and conveyed the stories of the aboriginals about the mines having already been dug.  The Native Woodland Americans did not use these minerals as a common practice, in this region of Wisconsin.  Their first experience with the use of lead was when the explorers demonstrated the thunderous power of the gun. There were lead, copper and zinc mines in this area.

Also observed by the explorers were well established roads along ridges and rivers.  When the local inhabitants were asked who built the roads and what were they for, they replied; the Spanish built them.  This conversation was with E. Brule.

Were they referencing an unknown tribe as we here in the U.S. refer to Canadians or Latinos, which would be a very vague usage, rather than narrowing the locale of the citizen to Ottawa or Durango?  But my question would be, why would the locals allow another tribe to construct roads in their territory. The construction had to be quite lengthy and what mode of transportation would require the use of such roads. What beast of burden were being used?

I find quite odd that five towns along the Wisconsin river have Roman or Latin names.I’m not saying those towns were begun by the Romans, it’s just odd.

So, in my wild imagination; I suggest the Minoan culture inhabited this area of the Great Lakes, but I don’t know when.  I will persist in defining a timeline for the script on the tablet, based on the differences between evolutions of script of the Minoan, Cuneiforms, local natives and anything else I can find. Right now I’m suggesting the period the script was written prior to the 5th century BCE and after the 20th century BCE, based on symbol changes. Let me know your thoughts.

The Minoan culture were extremely skilled in metallurgy and they could have had symbols of these noble metals within their language. Perhaps they were never found, until now.

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

James R Heath

 

Wisconsin stone tablet unearthed.


Wisconsin stone tablet unearthed..

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