The Dispilio Tablet

The Dispilio TabletThis wooden tablet bearing inscribed markings was unearthed in 1993 during George Hourmouziadis’s excavations of the village of Dispilio in Greece, and carbon-14 dated to the late sixth millennium BC.

The lake settlement was discovered during the dry winter of 1932, which lowered the lake level and revealed traces of the settlement. A preliminary survey was made in 1935 by Antonios Keramopoulos. Excavations began in 1992, led by George Hourmouziadis, professor of prehistoric archaeology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. The site appears to have been occupied over a long period, from the final stages of the Middle Neolithic (5600–5000 BC) to the Final Neolithic (3000 BC). A number of items were found, including ceramics, wooden structural elements, the remains of wooden walkways, seeds, bones, figurines, personal ornaments, flutes and a tablet with marks on it.

The tablet’s discovery was announced at a symposium in February 1994 at the University of Thessaloniki. The site’s paleoenvironment, botany, fishing techniques, tools and ceramics were described informally in an article in Eptakyklos: Journal of Archaeological and Philological Studies in 2000, and by Hourmouziadis in 2002. See The prehistoric settlement of Dispilio, Kastoria, Greece. Writing in Neolithic Greece?

  1. Samples of carved signs on the wooden Dispilio tablet and clay finds from the Dispilio excavation.
  2. For comparison: Samples of Linear A signs.
  3. Samples of signs on Paleo-European clay tablets found elsewhere.

The tablet itself was partially damaged when it was exposed to the oxygen-rich environment outside of the mud and water in which it was immersed for a long period of time, and so it was placed under conservation. As of 2023, the full academic publication of the tablet apparently awaits the completion of conservation work.

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