A mysterious ancient writing system called Linear Elamite, used between about 2300 B.C. and 1800 B.C. in what is now southern Iran, might have finally been deciphered, although some experts are skeptical about the findings. What’s more, it’s unclear whether all the artifacts used to decipher the writings were legally acquired.
Only about 40 known examples of Linear Elamite survive today, making the script challenging to decode, but researchers say they’ve largely accomplished just that, they wrote in a paper published in July in the journal Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und Vorderasiatische Archäologie (German for the “Journal of Assyriology and Near Eastern Archaeology”). Key to their decipherment was the analysis of eight inscriptions on silver beakers.
Other research teams had previously decoded different Linear Elamite inscriptions, and the new study’s authors built on this previous work by comparing the writing system in the eight Linear Elamite inscriptions with cuneiform (an already-deciphered script used in what is now the Middle East) texts that date to around the same time period and likely contain the names of the same rulers and their titles and use some of the same phrases to describe the rulers.
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