Pictures of different Scripts




Quick Facts:
  Type: Syllabic
  Family: Eteo-Cretan
  Location: Crete
  Time: 2000 to 1200 BCE


Crete was the cradle of the Minoan Civilization, which spanned roughly from 2000 BCE to 1200 BCE. In addition to incredible frescoes, indoor plumbing (!), the Minoans also developed the first written system of Europe.

The oldest example of writing in Crete is a kind of "hieroglyphic" (which means that the signs are picture-like) script. The media where the hieroglyphic inscriptions appeared are mostly clay sealstones.

The origin of the Cretan writing system lies in the extensive use of engraved sealstones, which depict physical objects, to (possibly) record quantities of these objects in soft clay. This forms a natural progression to a systematic writing system.

As time progresses hieroglyphic system became more stylized and more linear. Instead of impressing sealstones in soft clay, the glyphs are incised on the soft clay with a stylus. In addition, quantities are represented by numerals (not multiple impressions of the same sign). As time goes on, it appears that the linear hieroglyphic system evolved into Linear A.

Linear A has roughly 90 symbols, thus most likely a syllabary much like Linear B. However, Linear A has resisted all attempts at decipherment because its underlying language is still unknown and probably will remain obscure since it doesn't seem to relate to any other surviving language in Europe or Western Asia.

Linear B and Cypriot both exhibit considerable similarity to Linear A. Because of its time depth, Linear A appears to be the immediate ancestor to both of these writing systems. .



Quick Facts:
  Type: Probably Syllabic
  Family: Unrelated
  Location: West Asia
  Time: Middle of 2nd millenium BCE

Byblos is an ancient Phoenician city along the coast of modern day Lebanon. Its name was the origin of the Greek word "biblion" which means "book", hence "bibliography" and "Bible". In short Byblos is nearly synonymous with writing. Ironically, Byblos was also home to a still poorly understood script during roughly the middle of the second millenium BCE. There are only a few short examples of this script, mainly on stone or metal. This script contains roughly 100 signs, which fits with the number of signs necessary for a syllabary.


Old European / Vinca

These symbols have been found on many of the artifacts excavated from sites in south-east Europe, in particular from Vinca near Belgrade, but also in Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, eastern Hungary, Moldova, southern Ukraine and the former Yugoslavia. The artifacts date from between the 7th and 4th millenia BC and those decorated with these symbols are between 8,000 and 6,500 years old.

Some scholars believe that the Vinca symbols represent the earliest form of writing every to be found, pre-dating ancient Epyptian and Sumerian writing by thousands of years. Since the inscriptions are all short and appear of objects found in burial sites, it is highly unlikely they will ever be deciphered, unless longer texts are found.

Symbols dating from the oldest period of Vinca culture (6th-5th millenia BC)

Oldest Vinca symbols

Common symbols used throughout the Vinca period

Common Vinca symbols

Other Vinca symbols



The Phaistos Disc is the only example of its kind, as no other inscription bearing similarly shaped signs has been found. It was found in the ancient city of Phaistos in Southern Crete. It is thought to date to around 1700 BC (from associated archaelogical context), thus contemporary with Linear A. Because no other similar artifacts have ever been found anywhere in the Crete, it is thought that the object was foreign and brought in from another place. The place of its origin is extremely speculative, although subtle clues may exist in the highly pictorial signs on the disc. A sign depicts a helmet with crest, which was used later by Philistines. Another sign depict a structure similar to sarcophagus used by the Lycians of Asia Minor.

Because there is essentially no variation between different copies of the same symbol, it is very likely that stamps where used to create these highly detailed signs. While not really a printed work, perhaps the Phaistos Disc can be thought of the earliest typewritten work.

Some people think they have Deciphered this Disk what do you think?


Eskaya Gliphs

One of the many Undeciphered Scripts in existance.