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Rongorongo Tablet, Proto-Writing

Rongorongo Tablet, Proto-Writing

C027/3655

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Credit

GEORGE HOLTON / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY GEORGE HOLTON / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Rongorongo is a system of glyphs discovered in the 19th century on Easter Island that appears to be writing or proto-writing. Numerous attempts at decipherment have been made, none successfully. If rongorongo does prove to be writing, it could be one of as few as three or four independent inventions of writing in human history. The objects are mostly tablets shaped from irregular pieces of wood, sometimes driftwood, but include a chieftain's staff, a bird-man statuette, and two reimiro ornaments. There are also a few petroglyphs which may include short rongorongo inscriptions. Oral history suggests that only a small elite was ever literate and that the tablets were sacred. The glyphs themselves are outlines of human, animal, plant, artifact and geometric forms.

Release details

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