25 Undeciphered Writing Systems That We Might Never Figure Out

There’s no doubt that without language our world would be a totally different place since most of us agree that language and the written word are the building blocks of human expression. The list of things that would not exist without writing is almost endless: there would be no books, no recorded history, no songs, no newspapers, no magazines, no films, no television programs, no comics, no Internet, and so on. Additionally, before the advent of the telephone people wouldn’t have been able to communicate over long distances through letters if there were no writing systems. Without language and writing we would not be able to fully express our thoughts and feelings, passions and desires. To make a long story short, writing systems are vital to a society and without them no civilization could ever be complete or remembered. However, throughout the years many writing systems have been discovered that we still can’t understand or interpret. The difficulty in deciphering these usually arises from the lack of known language descendants, from the languages being entirely isolated, from insufficient examples of discovered texts, or from whether the glyphs found actually constitute a writing system at all. These are 25 Undeciphered Writing Systems That We Might Never Figure Out.

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The Singapore Stone

The Singapore StoneSource: ancientscripts.com, Image: commons.wikimedia.org

The Singapore Stone is a fragment of a large sandstone slab that originally stood at the mouth of the Singapore River. The slab, which is believed to date back to at least the thirteenth century and possibly as early as the tenth or eleventh century, bears an undeciphered inscription. Recent theories suggest the inscription is either in Old Javanese or Sanskrit. It is likely that the person who commissioned it was Sumatran though no scholar can be sure about anything surrounding the mysterious stone.



RongorongoSource: ancientscripts.com, Image: commons.wikimedia.org

Rongorongo is a system of glyphs discovered in the nineteenth century on Easter Island that appears to be writing or proto-writing. Although some calendrical and what might prove to be genealogical information has been identified, not even these glyphs can actually be read.


Tujia Script

Tujia ScriptSource: ancientscripts.com, Image: Wikipedia

The Tujia have historically been known as an ethnic minority (in China) without a written language. However, a succession of ancient undeciphered books with glosses presented in Chinese characters has been found in the Youyang Tujia habitation straddling the borders of Hunan, Hubei, Guizhou Province, and Chongqing City.


Khitan Scripts

Khitan ScriptsSource: ancientscripts.com, Image: Wikipedia

The Khitan scripts were the writing systems of the now-extinct para-Mongolian Khitan language used from the tenth to twelfth centuries by the Khitan people who established the Liao dynasty in northeast China. There were two scripts, large and small. Many experts agree that the scripts have not been fully deciphered and that more research and further discoveries are required to proficiently understand them.


Issyk Writing

Issyk WritingSource: ancientscripts.com, Image: Wikipedia

The Issyk inscription is not yet certainly deciphered, and is probably in a Scythian dialect, constituting one of very few indigenous epigraphic traces of the language.

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