Herodotus Returns

A look at Pictish, ancient language of Scotland
August 12, 2010, 8:03 pm
Filed under: Scotland | Tags: ,

Pictish stone

BBC takes a brief look at the current debates over Pictish, the ancient language of Scotland.

The stones are believed to have been carved by members of an ancient people known as the Picts, who thrived in what is now Scotland from the 4th to the 9th Centuries.

These symbols, researchers say, are probably “words” rather than images.

“The line between writing and drawing is not as clear cut as categorised in the paper,” Mr Fournet wrote in his article. “On the whole the conclusion remains pending.”

But Prof Lee says that his most recent analysis of the symbols, which has yet to be published, has reinforced his original conclusions.

He also stressed he did not claim that the carvings were a full and detailed record of the Pictish language.

“The symbols themselves are a very constrained vocabulary,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean that Pictish had such a constrained vocabulary.”

He said the carvings might convey the same sort of meaning as a list, perhaps of significant names, which would explain the limited number of words used.

“It’s like finding a menu for a restaurant [written in English], and that being your sole repository of the English language.”

More on Pictish.


Second Neolithic Venus discovered at Orkney
July 26, 2010, 5:59 pm
Filed under: Scotland | Tags: , , , , ,

An article of mine from Heritage Key:

The Venus of Orkney, a 4,500-year-old Neolithic sandstone figurine hailed as Scotland’s earliest depiction of a human face, has been a darling of British archaeology since it was excavated last year on the remote island of Westray. Now, the Venus, which earned a nomination at the recent British Archaeology Awards, will have to share the limelight – archaeologists at the Links of Noltland site on Westray have uncovered a second remarkable Neolithic figurine, less than 100 feet from where the Venus was discovered.

Read the rest of the Heritage Key article here.

Here’s a photograph I took last year at the archaeology museum in Ankara, Turkey of a fertility figure excavated at the fantastic Neolithic site of Catalhoyuk. This statuette dates back roughly 8,000 years.

And another of a similar ‘Venus’ figurine excavated at Malta. This one goes back 23,000 years.

Hundreds other Venus figures similar to these two have been excavated all over Europe. The pendants found at Orkney are considered to be in the same ‘family’ in form and function.

Ancient arrowhead found in abandoned school in Scotland
January 19, 2010, 8:47 pm
Filed under: Pre-history, Scotland | Tags: , ,

A prehistoric arrowhead was recently stumbled upon on the grounds of a school in Scotland.

Glasgow University Archaeological Research Division (Guard) said it may have been dropped by a hunter.

It added that it may have arrived from elsewhere and then been lost by a local collector or a teacher at the former parish school in Durness.

The 3cm relic was made from a sedimentary rock called black chert.

In a report by Guard made available on Highland Council’s Highland Historic Environment Record, archaeologists said the find had “cast an unexpected light” on the area’s prehistoric times.

The spot on rocky ground between two lochs was a perfect place to stalk game, they said.

But the archaeologists added that it could have been lost from a private collection after being found somewhere else locally.

More on the find.