A 26 pound stone slab found in a gravel pit by a road building crew in Veracruz, Mexico is the oldest piece of writing ever found in the Americas, dating back almost 3,000 years to the Olmec civilization (who came before the Mayans and the Aztecs). And a 700-year-old Hindu manuscript that has been hidden away in a wooden box is finally being read.

The Olmec symbols have not yet been decoded, but archeologists who are studying the slab have discovered 62 symbols that distinct symbols on it, some of which are repeated. Mayan glyphs were only decoded within the last decade, by archeologists in Texas, who realized that the writing contained symbols that stood for both numbers, as well as letters, probably because the Mayans were such precise http://www.nexternal.com/ukcountry/Product352,calendar-keepers.

Most ancient Mexican writing systems are read from top to bottom, like Asian writing, but according to archeologist Richard Diehl, the Olmec writing “seems to be in rows from left to right.”

In LiveScience.com, Jeanna Bryner writes about an ancient Hindu manuscript that has been hidden for almost a thousand years in a wooden box in a monastery. NASA technology is helping archeologists read this and other ancient books. It consists of commentaries on holy writings that were written by a scholar on palm leaves, which are rapidly deteriorating.

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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