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14 January 2006
Jiroft inscription may be the earliest written language

Studies by five linguists on a discovered inscription in Jiroft (Iran) indicate that the Elamite script is 300 years older than that of the civilization of Susa. The inscription was carved on a brick, and only the lower left corner of it remains. Archeologists believe that Jiroft was the origin of Elamite written language in which the writing system developed first and was then spread across the country and reached Susa. The discovered inscription of Jiroft is the most ancient written script found so far.
     "This inscription was discovered in a palace. Although it is not yet known which Elamite king this inscription belongs to, it is definitely an Elamite inscription. More studies are needed to determine the exact time in which it was inscribed, but most probably it is the most ancient written language. Further excavations are being carried out to find the rest of the inscription," said Yousof Majid Zadeh, head of archeological excavation team in Jiroft.
     The city of Jiroft is situated close to Halil Rud historical site. Halil Rud, located on the basin of Halil Rood River enjoyed a rich civilization. Many stone and clay objects as well as other historical evidence belonging to the third millennium BCE have been discovered during the archeological excavations.      
     According to archeological studies, the history of Halil Rud area goes back to some 3000 years ago. The discovered stone dishes in the area belonging to the first half of the third millennium BCE point to the developed art of carving on stones at that time.
     Elamite language is only partly understood by scholars. It had no relationship to Sumerian, Semitic or Indo-European languages, and there are no modern descendants of it. After 3000 BCE the Elamites developed a semi-pictographic writing system called Proto-Elamit. Later the cuneiform script was introduced.

Source: Persian Journal (13 January 2006)

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