These undeciphered symbols date back to Roman times

first_imgThat means the symbols are nearly 200 years older than previously thought. The new time frame also lines up with the spread of Roman writing systems through the region, suggesting the Picts’ enemies may have partially inspired their script. Although the Picts didn’t adopt the Roman alphabet, they may have picked up the idea of using symbols to represent significant names and places, the authors argue. That makes sense, they say, given that at least some of the stone monuments appear to mark important sites—and their rulers. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) By Michael PriceOct. 26, 2018 , 7:00 AM Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Email These undeciphered symbols date back to Roman times Gordon Noble et al., Antiquity 10.15184 (2018)/Roderick Richmond for Orkney, Arts, Museums & Heritage What’s in a name? For the ancient Picts—a federation of Celtic-speaking tribes that lived in modern-day Scotland—the answer might go something like “salmon-beast” or “fish-flower.” Those are just two combinations of some 30 mysterious symbols that this society of farmers, who lived between the third and 10th centuries C.E., carved into hundreds of freestanding stone monuments and bone tools. But the symbols have not been deciphered, and their meaning has perplexed researchers for centuries. Now, archaeologists may have gotten one step closer by figuring out when the earliest symbols appeared.Because most Pictish symbols are carved in stone, they can’t be dated using traditional methods that rely on the decay rate of organic materials. Instead, archaeologists have relied on imprecise rules of thumb that suggest symbols incised on unshaped stones in this part of the world usually date to about the fifth century C.E. But that evidence is highly circumstantial and not considered as accurate as direct dating.In the early 19th century, a group of children discovered carvings in a wall that belonged to Dunnicaer, a Pictish fort site on Scotland’s eastern coast. In recent archaeological excavations of the site, diggers also found traces of organic material—several slivers of preserved timber and a piece of charcoal in an ancient hearth. Scientists radiocarbon dated these objects, and more timber from a site farther inland, to about 200 C.E. to 300 C.E. They also dated an ox bone and a bone pin from a Pictish site on the Orkney Islands (pictured above) to about 400 C.E. Taken together, the findings suggest the Pictish symbols date to at least the early third century, they report today in Antiquity.last_img read more