Sumerian tablets 3100bc

The Sumerian tablets are widely recognised as the worlds earliest known writing system, dating to approximately 3100bc.

Stages, Wikipedia

Archaic Sumerian is the earliest stage of inscriptions with linguistic content, beginning with the Jemdet Nasr (Uruk III) period from about the 31st to 30th centuries BC.

Dispilio tablet

Despite the fact that the Sumerian tablets are considered the earliest known writing system, the Dispilio tablet uncontroversially dates back to 5202bc.

Dispilio tablet, Wikipedia

The Dispilio tablet is a wooden tablet bearing inscribed markings, unearthed during George Hourmouziadis's excavations of Dispilio in Greece, and carbon 14-dated to 5202 (± 123) BC.1 It was discovered in 1993 in a Neolithic lakeshore settlement that occupied an artificial island2 near the modern village of Dispilio on Lake Kastoria in Kastoria, Western Macedonia, Greece.


Is the Dispilio tablet evidence of a pre-Sumerian and pre-Egyptian writing system?

Yorgos Facorellis, Wikipedia samples of signs on Paleo-European clay tablets.

  • The picture has four columns, but only three markings, A, B, and C. Which corresponds to which? The second and the fourth column are almost the same.
    – Vladimir F
    Oct 7 '21 at 17:49
  • The authors claim If this proves to be a primary source of written communication, the history of writing should be reconsid- ered and Neolithic societies can no longer be considered “societies without writing.” cambridge.org/core/journals/radiocarbon/article/…
    – Vladimir F
    Oct 7 '21 at 19:36
  • Not sure if the authors convinced me that the signs on that pottery "cannot be considered as decorative".
    – Vladimir F
    Oct 7 '21 at 19:41
  • 1
    These characters look very Semitic. I'm skeptical. Oct 7 '21 at 22:39

Could this indicate a pre-cuneiform, pre-hieroglyphic writing system? It's possible, yes.

But so could the Vinča symbols, or the Jiahu symbols. It's hard to prove a negative (i.e. prove that these symbols don't encode language), but until someone can come up with a believable, systematic correspondence between these symbols and some form of language (a decipherment), it's more likely that these are proto-writing or just some form of decoration.

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