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The Tartaria Tablets

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2015

Extract

The inscribed clay tablets (PL. XVIa) found in a 'Neolithic' context at Tartaria (FIG. 1) in Romania in 1961 have already aroused a certain amount of interest here. The signs on the tablets are comparable with those of the script of the Late Predynastic (Uruk III Jemdet Nasr) period in Mesopotamia, as Dr Vlassa who excavated them has noted. It seems unlikely however that the tablets were drafted by a Sumerian hand or in the Sumerian language of early Mesopotamia. The shapes of the tablets and some of the signs are paralleled in the Minoan scripts of Crete, but the tablets do not seem to be Cretan. There are indications that a similar use of signs, if not actual writing, was practised in the rest of the Aegean and in Western Anatolia before the end of the 3rd millennium B.C. A knowledge of writing, or the use of signs derived from it, may have spread to these regions and to the Balkans from Mesopotamia through Syria. This was perhaps one aspect of a common inheritance of religious or magical beliefs and practices.

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Copyright © Antiquity Publications Ltd 1967

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References

[1] E.g. The Times, 2nd December 1966.

[2] Vlassa, N., ‘Chronology of the Neolithic in Transylvania, in the Light of the Tartaria Settlement’s Stratigraphy’, Dacia, VII, 1963, 48594.Google Scholar Cf. Milojčić, V., ‘Die Tontafeln von Tartaria (Sieben- biirgen) und die absolute Chronologie des mittel-europäischen Neolithikums’,Germania, XLIII, 1965, 261.Google Scholar Popovitch, V., ‘Une Civilisation égéo-orientale sur le moyen Danube’, Rev. Arch.]], 1965:2, 1.Google Scholar Renfrew, C., Nestor, 1st December 1966, 469–70Google Scholar.

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Ibid

[8] Schmidt, , Schl. Sammlung (1902)Google Scholar, index p. 352: ‘Schriftzeichen (Marken)’. The long ‘inscriptions’ on two pyxides (ibid. Nos. 2444–5) appear to be just carelessly incised decoration.

ibid

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[14] For the earliest of these so-called ‘masons’ marks’ at Knossos see Evans, Sir A., Palace of Minos, I (1921), 133 Google Scholar, fig. 99. These Cretan signs on stone were compared with the Tordos signs by Mosso, The Dawn of Mediterranean Civilization (1910), 12, 34 Google Scholar.

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[17] Schmidt, , Schl. Sammlung (1902), nos. 2030–4 (vases); pl. vi Google Scholar, p. 218, nos. 5209–24 (whorls). A. H. Sayce in Schliemann, , Ilios (1890), 25 Google Scholar, read one of these (no. 5214) as Greek!

[18] E.g. Blegen, C. W., Troy, 11 (1951)Google Scholar, fig. 169 (lid from Troy IV); fig. 237, 35–498 (whorl from Troy V).

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[22] Milojðic, , Germania, XLIII, 1965, 261 Google Scholar.

[23] Estimating from the sections in Dacia, VII, 1963, 486 Google Scholar, fig. 2.

[24] For evidence of cannibalism in related Neolithic and later Bronze Age cultures in Europe, e.g. Childe, , Danube (1929), 170, 344 Google Scholar; Dawn (1957), 102, 115, 290Google ScholarPubMed.

[25] A. Falkenstein, Archaische Texte aus Uruk (Ausgrabungen in Uruk-Warka 2) (1936). Langdon, S. L., Pictographic Inscs. from Jemdet Nasr {Oxford Ed. of Cuneiform Texts, VII) (1928)Google Scholar, where pi. V, 15, and pi. XXI, 73, are those illustrated in Dacia, VII, 1963, 493 Google Scholar, fig. 10, 1 and 2.

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ibid

[31] F. Chapouthier, loc. cit., 12; Caratelli, P., Annuario Sc. Arch, di Atene, 35–6 (n.s. 19/20), 1957/8, 363 f Google Scholar.

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[44] As early as Phase A (6th millennium b.c.?) ( Braidwood, R., Excavations in the Plain of Antioch, I (1960), 63 Google Scholar).

[45] Frankfort, Studies in Early Pottery of the Near East, II (1927), 122 Google Scholar.

[46] Dunand, M., Byblia Grammata (Beirut, 1945), xviii, 40 Google Scholar, esp. no. 30 (FIG. 15). For the succession of phases at Byblos see Dunand, , Revue Biblique, LVII, 1950. 583603 Google Scholar.

[47] Braidwood, , Excavations in the Plain of Antioch, I (1960), 291 Google Scholar, fig. 231>, 2 and 3, 292, fig. 232, i, 2 and 5. Described as potters’ marks. Similar marks occur at Tarsus in E.B. I—II (Goldman, Tarsus, 11, fig. 235, 4s; 256, 291, 292, 248a). Cilician E.B. I may correspond to Syrian Phase G, E.B. II to Phase H in Syria and to Troy I (M. J. Mellink, in Ehrich, , Chronologies (1965), 109Google Scholar).

[48] E.g. E. Porada, in Ehrich, , Chronologies (1965)Google Scholar, Chart p. 176, between c. 3100–2900 b.c.; Braidwood, ibid., Chart p. 82, rather after 3000 b.c.

ibid

[49] Moorey, P. R. S., Iraq, XXVIII, 1966, 40 Google Scholar.

[50] E.g. Astrom, P., Kretika Khronika, 1961–2, 143Google Scholar, suggests that M.M. I began at earliest c. 1800 b.c.!

[51] Yeivin, S., Israel Exploration Journal, x, 1960, 193203.Google Scholar Oriens Antiquus, 2, 1963, 205 f. But the idea of a destruction is now questioned (ibid., 3, 1964, 5).

ibid

[52] S. S. Weinberg, in Ehrich, , Chronologies (1965), Chart p. 13Google Scholar, makes a very long E.M. II period starting shortly after 3000 b.c. But the development of the pottery suggests that E.M. I was a long phase compared with E.M. II.

[53] Annuario Sc. Arch, di Atene, 35–6 (n.s. 19–20), 363.

[54] Evans, , Palace of Minos, 1 (1921), 272 Google Scholar and note 2.

[55] M.M. III according to Chapouthier, Les Ecritures Minoennes (Ét Crét., 11), 1930, 7 Google Scholar.

[56] Dacia, VII, 1963, 487 Google Scholar, fig. 3, 4 and fig. 2, 1 at top (section).

[57] Starinar, n.s. VII-VIII, 1956–7, 34 Google Scholar.

[58] E.g. most recently in Germania, XLIII, 1965, 261 Google Scholar.

[59] V Int. Kongress für Vor-u.Fruhgesch. Hamburg, 1958 (Berlin, 1961), 398403 Google Scholar.

[60] Moorey, , Iraq, XXVIII, 1966, 40 Google Scholar.

[61] See note [33] above.

[62] E.g. Vermeule, E., Greece in the Bronze Age (1961), 41Google Scholar, fig. 6.

[63] Wace, A. J. B. and Thompson, M. S., Prehistoric Thessaly (1912), 90Google Scholar, fig. 43 (signs), fig. 42d (footed dish).

[64] Mellink, M. J., Kadmos, in, 1964, 1–7Google Scholar.

[65] University of Edinburgh, Symposium on Mycenaean Writing, IV, 1966, 7 Google Scholar.

[66] Diringer, , Writing (1962), 17Google Scholar.

[67] Cf. Popovitch, , Rev. Arch., 1965:2, 31.Google Scholar*

[68] Mellink, in Ehrich, Chronologies (1965), 115Google Scholar.

[69] Cf. Popovitch, , Rev. Arch., 1957:1, 141.Google Scholar*

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