This is about the script in 3500BC to be deciphered.
Original text from with trial translation to Japanese.



Technology Helping to Decipher Proto-Elamite Script



A technology called the Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) System for Ancient Documentary Artifacts has brought scientists closer to cracking the world’s oldest undeciphered writings.

Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) System for Ancient Documentary Artifactsと呼ばれるテクノロジーにより、研究者が世界最古の文書を解読する日が近づいている。

The proto-Elamite writing system was used for a brief period around 3,100 BC over a very large area in what is now Iran. It is preserved on more than 1,500 clay tablets found at the archaeological sites of Susa, Malyan, Anshan, Tepe Yahya, Shahr-i-Shokhta, Sialk and Jiroft.


Scientists from the University of Oxford and the University of Southampton have used RTI to capture highly detailed images of some 1,100 proto-Elamite tablets held in the vaults of the Louvre Museum in Paris, and made them available online for free public access on the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative website.

オックスフォード大学とサザンプトン大学の研究者が、パリのルーヴル美術館に収蔵されている1100ほどの原エラムタブレットを、RTIを使ってかなり綿密な画像に捉え、ネット上で無料で公開している。Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative website.

“The Louvre collection of early writing from Mesopotamia and Iran is incredibly important – it contains the first substantial law code, the first record of a battle between kings, the first propaganda, and the first literature. Being able to put these documents online would be a great achievement,” said Dr Jacob L. Dahl of the Oxford University’s Faculty of Oriental Studies, a co-leader of the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative.

「ルーヴル美術館が所蔵するメソポタミアとイランの初期文書は、極めて重要で、初の実質的な法典、初の王の戦の記録、初の教義、初の文学などがあります。このような文書をネットに掲載できるのは、すばらしい成果です。」と、オックフォード大学東洋学部の教授で、Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative(くさび文字デジタルライブラリー・イニシアティブ)の共同リーダーである、ヤコブ・L・ダール博士が語った。

By viewing images of the proto-Elamite tablets, and by sharing them with a community of scholars worldwide, the scientists hope to crack the script and for all.


“The quality of the images captured is incredible. And it is important to remember that you cannot decipher a writing system without having reliable images because you will, for example, overlook differences barely visible to the naked eye which may have meaning. Consider for example not being able to distinguish the letter i from the letter t.”

「とらえた画像の画質はすばらしい。ここで重要なのは、信頼できる画像抜きでは文字体系を解読するのは不可能だということです。なぜなら、例えば、裸眼では、かろうじて見える重要な意味をもっているかもしれない相違点を見逃していまうからです。たとえば、文字の i と t を見分けることができないという例を考えてみてください。」

RIT comprises a dome with 76 lights and a camera positioned at the top of the dome. The manuscript is placed in the center of the dome, whereafter 76 photos are taken each with one of the 76 lights individually lit. In post-processing all images are joined so that the researcher can move the light across the surface of the digital image and use the difference between light and shadow to highlight never-before-seen details.


“I have spent the last ten years trying to decipher the proto-Elamite writing system and, with this new technology, I think we are finally on the point of making a breakthrough,” Dr Dahl said.


“Looking at contemporary and later writing systems, we would expect to see proto-Elamite use only symbols to represent things, but we think they also used a syllabary – for example ‘cat’ would not be represented by a symbol depicting the animal but by symbols for the otherwise unrelated words ‘ca’ and ‘at.”


“Half of the signs used in this way seem to have been invented ex novo for the sounds they represent – if this turns out to be the case, it would transform fundamentally how we understand early writing where phonetecism is believed to have been developed through the so-called rebus principle (a modern example would be for example “I see you”, written with the three signs ‘eye’, the ‘sea’, and a ‘ewe’).”

「このように使われた記号の半分は、記号が表す音でゼロから作り出されていたように見えます。もし、これが正しければ、初期の文字体系に対するわれわれの理解を、根本的に一変させることになるでしょう。つまり、phonetecismは、いわゆる判じ絵原理によって発展してきたと考えられるのです。(現代の例をあげれば、「I see you」を3つの記号「eye」「sea」「ewe」で表記するとういことです。)」

Some features of the Proto-Elamite writing system are already known. The scribes had loaned – or potentially shared – some signs from/with Mesopotamia, such as the numerical signs and their systems and signs for objects like sheep, goats, cereals and some others. Nevertheless, 80-90% of the signs remain undeciphered.


“The writing system died out after only a couple centuries,” Dr Dahl said: “It was used in administration and for agricultural records but it was not used in schools – the lack of a scholarly tradition meant that a lot of mistakes were made and the writing system may eventually have become useless as an administrative system. Eventually, the system was abandoned after some two hundred years.”


‘This is probably the world’s first case of a collapse of knowledge because of the under-funding of education!’ Dr Dahl concluded.