More from Majidzadeh on Jiroft
- Dear List,
Here are the newest Jiroft claims from Yousef Majidzadeh about what
he is now calling the "geometric" or "Jiroft script". No pictures are
shown of the claimed ancient inscriptions, as usual.
I don't know what to make of his claims that "based on carbon tests"
conducted at the University of Pennsylvania "they date back to 2500
BCE." Can anyone on the List from Penn shed light on this? :^)
Just for the record: you CAN'T carbon date a clay or stone tablet,
and you can't date *anything* using the method with that kind of
In the past Majidzadeh has claimed that they were identified as
linear Elamite by people who at the time hadn't even seen photos
of them. The last line about them being "similar to scripts which
were once prevalent in Ilam for a period of 20 years" (!!)
apparently means he is again trying to relate them to linear
Not much more can be said until the photos are made public, if that
ever happens. (So far only one very low-res photo of the first of the
four, which is quite anomalous, has been shown publicly.) The full
reasons why he is calling them "controversial" and "geometric" will
be ludicrously obvious when someone finally does get the
nerve to post them.
This is getting crazier and crazier, and whistles and alarm bells
should be going off all over the place. Instead, public silence,
but a flurry of private discussions.
Enough is enough, maybe?
Comments on Majidzadeh's newest?
Jiroft Inscription the Most Controversial Discovery in the Region:
LONDON, (CAIS) -- Director of the excavation team in Jiroft
historical site said that the traces of primitive scripts are the
most controversial findings in the region since it invalidates claims
by foreign archaeologists that until the Achaemenid era, the writing
was unknown to Iranian peoples.
According to Persian service of ISNA, Professor Yousef Majidzadeh,
who was speaking in a meeting titled ’Latest Jiroft Excavation’ added
that currently explorations are being conducted in Matoutabad,
Hosseinabad and Konar Sandal. The main section of the studies focuses
on Konar Sandal, he noted.
Most of the objects discovered, particularly the earthenware found in
cemeteries, are mythological oriented since they pertain to life
after death, he said, adding that the origin of the belief is not yet
He stated, “Jiroft culture is self-existent and cannot be compared to
that of Mesopotamia to conclude that such beliefs were not indigenous.“
Probably the Achaemenid art has its root in Jiroft because common
elements have been found in the two, Majidzadeh said.
Referring to the four inscriptions found in the region, he said that
based on carbon tests conducted in Pennsylvania University, they date
back to 2500 BCE.
The script used in writing them is totally different from the
Mesopotamian script or even the Egyptian Hieroglyph, he said.
“We have called the script geometric or Jiroft script, which is
similar to scripts which were once prevalent in Ilam for a period of
20 years,“ he concluded.
- Hi Steve,
As I've written to this list before, Holly Pittman and I collected C14 samples during the 2005 season and we had them done at Arizona. The C14 samples were taken from the sequence of layers lying *underneath* the mudbrick massif (the 'ziggurat'), while the top of the massif has only been dated in relative terms (ie, we found incised grey ware up there, which is a type only found at the very end of the 3rd mill BCE). The layer that was flattened in order to build the massif (which is essential the modern surface level) is dated c. 2300 BCE. The layer that lies about 1m below that level begins as early as 27/2600 BCE. The first brick was found on the slopes of the massif -- supposedly in situ on the 'ramp' leading up to the top (i've never been convinced of this ramp/entrance, so perhaps it simply fell down from the top). This would date it somewhere between 2300-2000 BCE. The 'tablets' found in the past year supposedly come from the hole that was dug near the road to put in a new "no trespassing" sign. The hole starts at modern surface level and continues down as much as a meter. My guess is that since Madjidzadeh doesnt really know where in the hole those 'tablets' came from, he's simply averaging between 27/2600 and 2300 BCE.
I recently had the opportunity to go back to Iran for the first time since 2005 (I presented at a conference on Tepe Hissar) and it was a wonderful trip. The conference was excellent and the state of Iranian archaeology was much improved. The new head of archaeology in the country is Dr. Hassan Fazeli, a graduate of Bradford University (Robin Coningham's) and a wonderful human being who, for his PhD, returned to some of the more famous Neolithic/Chalcolithic sites in north-central Iran and obtained C14 samples by making small cuts of the sections. His work (well published in Persian and English) has completely redefined the chronology of the region, and now as head of archaeology, he managed to get 1M rial (~$100k) from the Ministry of Culture specifically for C14 dating (at Oxford), arguing that without radiocarbon dates, the archaeology of Iran will never be taken seriously. Now, everybody and his brother are getting C14 dates for their site(s), and the emphasis is on stratigraphy and context.
Of more interest to this list, one of the purposes of the Hissar conference was to make public much of the new excavations that were done at the site over the past 5-10 years. You may remember I once sent a drawing of a tablet with cuneiform script that was supposedly found at Hissar. It turns out that this was only one of about 10 found during salvage excavations at the site (they put another train track running through the site... dont ask) that were found together with a number of unusual stamp sealings. I've only just returned (yesterday) from Oman (excavating the 3rd mill site of Bat), so I'm not quite ready to retrieve the pics I took and make a scan of the tablets/sealings, but i promise to do this and send it out to this list as soon as possible. The Iranians claim that the tablets are Old Babylonian, although I'm not sure they actually have anyone who can appropriately make that diagnosis. I'm hoping that Steve Tinney here at Penn will be able to identify them. Whatever they are, they're definitely cuneiform (albeit only a few signs per tablet -- not a 'text' per se) and they're found far to the northeast at a 4th-early 2nd mill BCE site.
Apologies for 'dangling the carrot', but I promise to send pics/scans as soon as I get myself organized...
Best to all,
AOL now offers free email to everyone. Find out more about what's free from AOL at AOL.com.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- Thanks much, Chris.
> The 'tablets' found in the past year supposedly come from the holeActually, that was the story told about the first of the multiple-
> that was dug near the road to put in a new "no trespassing" sign.
> The hole starts at modern surface level and continues down as much
> as a meter. My guess is that since Madjidzadeh doesnt really know
> where in the hole those 'tablets' came from, he's simply averaging
> between 27/2600 and 2300 BCE.
lined tablets, which supposedly was found at the end of the season
when digging that sign. That was the really odd one released in a
tiny 72-dpi picture, which was analyzed on the List when it was first
published. It is a very suspicious piece, given the symbol count, and
no one I've talked to thinks it contains ancient "writing," whatever
The most recent two inscriptions were supposedly found "in the
house yard of a local farmer." Those two are far more suspicious in
appearance. The original claim was that they were verified as linear
Elamite by people who we later found hadn't even seen them.
Here was my post from Dec. 13th on that. The reactions of List
members, including epigraphists and Iranologists, can be found
in links at the bottom:
Photos of those have now been floating around, although they haven't
been publicly released. Wherever these came from, they certainly don't
contain ancient "writing", which is presumably why not even
72-dpi photos of them have been shown publicly.
> Apologies for 'dangling the carrot', but I promise to send pics/Are you talking about pics of the clay pieces from Hissar with a
> scans as soon as I get myself organized...
little cuneiform, or the Jiroft pieces too? The latter are
what all the claims are about. It is really awful that these public
claims are made about history supposedly being turned on its head
are being made and not even one photo has been released of the
claimed evidence. That's really unheard of.
- Dear Colleagues,
We have often discussed Chinese tomb texts on this List. Usually it is
in the context of the formation of early texts, and secondarily
concerning the structure of elements of the script. I have long felt
that eventually an even more important contribution archeologically
recovered texts will make is in the recovery of evidence for Sino-xenic
contacts in antiquity.
This note is meant especially for Wolfgang and Vaclav, both of whom have
written about the foreign origin of the Sinitic words for "lion." We
now appear to have evidence that the Greek word for "lion" may have
gotten into Sinitic by around the turn of the late 4th c. BC and early
3rd c. BC.
Here follows the English abstract of an article on this subject that
just came out. The citation is:
XU Quancheng, "Zouwu, suanni, yu XY -- qian tan Shang Bo Chu jian 'San
de' pian de zhongyao faxian (ZOUWU, SUANNI, and __*liwat-ngie__: A Note
on a Recent Discovery in the Shanghai Museum's Chu Bamboo Strips),
__Jiuzhou xuelin (Chinese Culture Quarterly), 4.4 (Winter, 2006), 196-204.
XY are for two rare characters whose pronunciation in Mandarin I'm not
able to determine definitely here in my office; perhaps LUENI. I've
also simplified the Old Sinitic reconstructions (marked with an
asterisk) for typographical convenience, and made a few other minor
The English title and the abstract are both supplied by the editors of
Several foreign words for "lion" made their way into old Chinese,
including __zouwu/yu/ya__ (*tshio-nga/ngiwa/ngea), __zun-er__
(*tsuen-ie), and __suanni__ (*suan-ngie). All of these words are
related to the word for "lion" in the original Saka (VHM: Khotanese)
language: *sargAva. A new term for "lion" in old Chinese, XY
(*liwat-ngie), was discovered on the eighteenth strip of the Chu bamboo
strip version of __San de__ (The three virtues) in the collection of the
Shanghai Museum. This loan word comes from Greek __leones__. Since
Greek culture had spread to Central Asia by the fourth century BC, this
is quite plausible. The term may represent a unique case of the Chinese
adoption of an ancient Greek word.
Anyway, the next time you see a Chinese lion dance, think "Western Regions"!
If anyone is interested in reading the whole article in Chinese, please
contact me and I will send you a pdf from scans.
- Dear Victor,
many thanks for alerting me to this and yes, I certainly would like to have
PDF scans of the article.
I don't know if this is the same article or at least by the same Xu-author,
but the identification of the two Sande-charaters you allude to have been
discussed early last year in an article available through the "bamboosilk"
The characters were initially transcribed by Li Ling, who wrote about the lion
in a different context, which might be of interest to some of you as well:
My reaction to the Xu paper on Bruce's Warring States list back then (March 6,
2006) was as follows, and I still do not see how this character would prove
any remote Greek-Chu connections in the 3rd c. b.c.
Dear Yuri & all,
Sir Harold's derivation from Khotanese (Saka) *sar-g-aava "pouncer" (and Lin
Meicun's acceptance of it) is a clear case of what Indo-Europeanists
sometimes jokingly call 'Teeter's law': "Whatever language one knows best,
turns out to be the most archaic". As usual, Bailey's etymology has many more
loose ends than just those imagined by Xu Wuluo. The distribution of lion
words, and the fact that there is no regularly reconstructable root for
"lion" within IE, not even within the Tocharian or Iranian branches, strongly
suggests that the word for "lion" reflected by suan1ni2 is a loan into IE
_and_ OC as well as into several Tibeto-Burman languages, from an unknown
substrate language. For details see my paper "Hi(n)c sunt leones -- two
ancient Eurasian migratory terms in Chinese revisited (1-2)", in:
International Journal of Central Asian Studies [Seoul] 9/10 (2004-5). (I'll
be happy to send out PDF copies to interested parties). For the Near Eastern
end of the story cf. V. Blazhek, with almost the same title, in one of the
more recent issues of the Journal of Indo-European Studies.
Assuming that Li Ling's identification of the previously unknown San1de2
characters is correct (but why would the rex animalium be written with a RAT
determiner?) for the moment, we note that items within the l"ue 寽 phonetic
series usually go back to an OC root *-(r)rot- or *-(r)rut-. The disyllabic
compound would thus have to be set up as sth. like *-(r)r[o,u]t.ngnge-, which
is certainly impossible to reconcile with either Greek l'eoon, -ontos, or the
migratory term echoed by suan1ni2 (< OC *ssor=ngnge) and its possible
congeners, mentioned in Xu's online article (incidentally, all of them
collected before, in a one-page paper by Boodberg in 1936!). Notice also that
the Greek word l'eoon, despite its wide later success as a borrowing into
Latin, Old Irish, Balto-Slavic etc., which has tended to eclipse its earlier
history, is a loanword itself, the usual underlying suspects variously
assumed to be of Hebrew, Akkadian, Egyptian or Kartvelian provenance since
the mid 19th c. See on this Gamkrelidze-Ivanov 1984, II: 507-8, Beekes' gloss
in the New Pokorny available online (http://www.indo-european.nl/), and the
book-length treatment in Frank Kammerzell's fine study _Panther, L"owe und
Sprachentwicklung im Neolithikum_ [Lingua Aegyptia, STudia; 1], Göttingen
I am no art historian or archaeologist, but from what I have read several
years ago, it seems true that the motif of the lion and the winged gryphin
with a lion's head, is remarkably widespread across the Near East and Inner
Asia. There is little reason to doubt that the tianlu, bixie and other
chimerical creatures with a mane, mentioned by Li Ling, are a distant Chinese
echo of this motif during the Han, possibly transferred by Iranian speaking
intermediaries. So far I can not see, however, that this transfer has
anything to do whatsoever with the creature mentioned in the Shang-Bo text.
Pace Guo Pu's gloss ("shizi ye"), not even the suanni is accepted to refer to
the "lion" by all scholars, hekuang the elusive l"ueni?!
ps: on the geographical distribution of the actual Asian lion see the
excellent website of the Asiatic Lion Information Centre
On Thursday 15 March 2007 18:39, Victor H. Mair scripsit:
| Dear Colleagues,
| We have often discussed Chinese tomb texts on this List. Usually it is
| in the context of the formation of early texts, and secondarily
| concerning the structure of elements of the script. I have long felt
| that eventually an even more important contribution archeologically
| recovered texts will make is in the recovery of evidence for Sino-xenic
| contacts in antiquity.
| This note is meant especially for Wolfgang and Vaclav, both of whom have
| written about the foreign origin of the Sinitic words for "lion." We
| now appear to have evidence that the Greek word for "lion" may have
| gotten into Sinitic by around the turn of the late 4th c. BC and early
| 3rd c. BC.
| Here follows the English abstract of an article on this subject that
| just came out. The citation is:
| XU Quancheng, "Zouwu, suanni, yu XY -- qian tan Shang Bo Chu jian 'San
| de' pian de zhongyao faxian (ZOUWU, SUANNI, and __*liwat-ngie__: A Note
| on a Recent Discovery in the Shanghai Museum's Chu Bamboo Strips),
| __Jiuzhou xuelin (Chinese Culture Quarterly), 4.4 (Winter, 2006), 196-204.
| XY are for two rare characters whose pronunciation in Mandarin I'm not
| able to determine definitely here in my office; perhaps LUENI. I've
| also simplified the Old Sinitic reconstructions (marked with an
| asterisk) for typographical convenience, and made a few other minor
| The English title and the abstract are both supplied by the editors of
| the journal.
| Several foreign words for "lion" made their way into old Chinese,
| including __zouwu/yu/ya__ (*tshio-nga/ngiwa/ngea), __zun-er__
| (*tsuen-ie), and __suanni__ (*suan-ngie). All of these words are
| related to the word for "lion" in the original Saka (VHM: Khotanese)
| language: *sargAva. A new term for "lion" in old Chinese, XY
| (*liwat-ngie), was discovered on the eighteenth strip of the Chu bamboo
| strip version of __San de__ (The three virtues) in the collection of the
| Shanghai Museum. This loan word comes from Greek __leones__. Since
| Greek culture had spread to Central Asia by the fourth century BC, this
| is quite plausible. The term may represent a unique case of the Chinese
| adoption of an ancient Greek word.
| Anyway, the next time you see a Chinese lion dance, think "Western
| If anyone is interested in reading the whole article in Chinese, please
| contact me and I will send you a pdf from scans.
Kaiser Sigmund-Str. 3, D-60320 Frankfurt a.M., FRG
Tel./Fax +49-69-561713, Mobile +49-171-7713754
<w dot behr at em dot uni minus frankfurt dot de>
- Short addendum:
Reasons for the suspicion alluded to in my last sentence one year ago
| Pace Guo Pu's gloss ("shizi ye"), not even the suanni is accepted to
| refer to the "lion" by all scholars
have meanwhile been published here:
Manfred Fruehauf (Sinicum, Bochum)
"Vom Stichwort _suanni_ in der han-zeitlichen Synonymik Erya: Zur Frage der
Existenz von Loewen im archaischen und antiken China", in: _Han-Zeit
Festschrift fuer Hans Stumpfeldt aus Anlass seines 65. Geburtstages_,
Emmerich, Reinhard; Ess, Hans van; Friedrich, Michael (eds.), Wiesbaden: O.
- Dear Colleagues,
If any of your tried unsuccessfully, as I did several times yesterday
and today, to open the first URL in Wolfgang's post (see below), remove
the period at the end and it will work.
wb (in bochum today) wrote:
> Dear Victor,
> many thanks for alerting me to this and yes, I certainly would like to
> PDF scans of the article.
> I don't know if this is the same article or at least by the same
> but the identification of the two Sande-charaters you allude to have been
> discussed early last year in an article available through the