The worlds oldest writing?

The Dispilio Tablet, the first writing?

Dispilio Neolithic Lake Settlement

The prehistoric settlement of Dispilio is situated on the southern shore of Kastoria lake, Orestiada, at the site Nissi (island). It was located in 1932, when the lake level fell.

Systematic excavations (1992 onward) unearthed the remains of a large lakeside settlement of the Late Neolithic period; one of the most important and oldest of its kind in Europe. Excavations at Dispilio constitute a landmark for archaeological investigations in Greece because of the special character of the site and because it permits the study of habitation structures during the Neolithic Period.

The houses of the settlement, circular and rectangular, were built of timber, reed, and clay upon timber-post framed platforms. The modern reconstruction of the lakeside settlement provides a wonderful insight into the habitation norms of that period.

Among the fauna and flora remains, as well as the mobiliary finds from the excavations (pottery, tools, etc.), the whole range of economic activities of the prehistoric inhabitants of Dispilio are represented: farming, animal husbandry, hunting and fishing. Numerous bone hooks and traces of a boat, identical to those used to this day by the fishermen of Kastoria, is clear evidence that fishing was practised. Finds, such as leaf-shaped and triangular arrowheads of Melian obsidian, pottery similar to that of the neighboring Balkan areas, and a stone ring idol pendant, place the settlement of Dispiliowithin the exchange networks developed in Greece in particular during the Late Neolithic period.

Grey pottery of the Tsangli type, black burnished ware of the Larisa type, and polychrome-painted vessels date to the phases of the Late Neolithic I. In the late phases of the settlement, black and blacktopped ware predominated, as well as red burnished and painted designs (brown on a light background). Characteristic types of vases were bowls, fruit stands, closed vases with a neck, and clay tables.

The community at Dispilio must have been a culturally evolved one, as is indicated by the three bone flutes, along with a wooden tablet with incised linear symbols that archaeologists were happy to unearth (please see our album). This tablet dates with certainty from 5260 BC, and is probable to be an early form of written speech, as has been assumed about similar symbols on clay, discovered at settlements in the southern Balkans (Vinca culture).

The signs (letters) on the tablet transcribed. They really look like writing.

I also think they bear some resmblance to these symbols..


This inscription was made about 6,500 years ago on the wall of a cave near Sitovo (next to Plovdiv, Bulgaria). The written signs are in two lines and each row is 3,4 meters long. The signs are 40 cm tall.

There’s a legend from Europe that the birch goddess taught people to write, and there is evidence from medieval finds that birch bark has been used as a form of parchment in Europe. Only time will tell if it’s really writing.

The find was in lake Kastoria, in Northern Greece near the border with Albania (Macedonian area).

2 responses to “The worlds oldest writing?

  1. If the dating is right this is quite remarkable.

  2. Your image of the Sitovo Cave inscription is rotated 180° compared with that drawn by Ilyov and published by Pavel Serafimov. Yet it is not a copy, differing in detail.
    Which is correct??!!

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