The slate pill from the Tartessian website of Turuñuelo de Guareña hid an alphabet from 2,500 years in the past | Culture | EUROtoday

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The slate pill lately discovered within the Tartessian website of Turuñuelo de Guareña (Badajoz), on which a Tartessian craftsman captured his sketches about 2,500 years in the past, is not going to solely assist to deepen our information of the artwork and craftsmanship of the time, but additionally in language. Along with the drawings carved with some sharp instrument, an alphabet can also be written on the small 20 by 20 centimeter pill. “As it was mixed with other signs, we initially decided to leave its in-depth study for later,” explains Sebastián Celestino, researcher on the Institute of Archeology of Mérida (joint heart of the CSIC and the Government of Extremadura) and co-director of the excavation. with Esther Rodríguez. And he continues: “But once we published the discovery, upon seeing the image, Joan Ferrer i Jané, from the LITTERA Research Group at the University of Barcelona, ​​contacted us to point out the existence of that alphabet and its great importance. ”.

Dr. Ferrer i Jané, one of many fundamental tutorial leaders within the analysis of Paleo-Hispanic writing, shall be in command of finding out this alphabet intimately. He explains by cellphone that it’s the third of this sort discovered to date; However, one, Villasviejas del Tamuja, already within the Tagus basin, could be very fragmented; and the opposite, the Espanca alphabet from Castro Verde, in Portugal, “appeared out of context.” This, however, has been unearthed on the Turuñuelo de Guareña website, the place an uncommon two-story constructing is being excavated, distinctive within the western Mediterranean, destroyed in direction of the top of the fifth century BC, and whose inside doesn’t fail to supply new keys for the research of the Tartessian tradition that dominated the southwest of the peninsula within the first half of the primary millennium earlier than our period.

The new alphabet, inscribed on the identical aspect of the pill the place three warriors are drawn, has 21 indicators written from left to proper, following the periphery. “The plate is broken on one of the sides, so we have lost at least six signs,” explains Professor Ferrer i Jané. That is in comparison with the 27 that seem within the Espanca inscription (on this case, written from proper to left), however maybe there are extra. “It is possible that the Espanca alphabet was incomplete or reflected writing with a simplified sign and, if the Turuñuelo inscription were completely symmetrical on both sides, it could have had up to 32 signs. The alphabets were not only models for teaching writing, but were often used in ritual, magical, religious contexts…, so it was not necessary for all the signs to be present,” adds the researcher. In any case, the breakage of the tablet makes it impossible to know for sure what the exact number was.

For now, while waiting for the tablet to be cleaned and prepared for in-depth study, what is known is that the first 10 signs coincide perfectly with that Espanca alphabet. “The eleventh, in this case, is a rare sign, but it was also rare in the other one. Afterwards, the sequence also seems similar, but it still cannot be read well,” provides the specialist.

Tartessian site of Turuñuelo de Guareña.  Faces of the same 2,500-year-old slate tablet.  To the left, side A.
Tartessian site of Turuñuelo de Guareña. Faces of the same 2,500-year-old slate tablet. To the left, side A.Tertiary deposit of the Turuñuelo de Guareña

In fact, he prefers to refer to the discovery as a “southern alphabet” for the moment. “The first thing we have to think about is that there may have been more than one language at that time. At the very least, there is Iberian, which is further east and is also written in the south-eastern Iberian script. It is clear that in this part we do not expect it to be Iberian, since in the Guadalquivir area we assume that there was the Turdetan language and another traditionally called Tartesian or Southwestern, documented in the extreme south of Portugal,” he points out.

What he has no doubt about is that this new discovery, which provides “very significant information about a specific chronological moment in a well-determined geographic point,” will help bring a little more order to a very complicated context, with few remains with inscriptions to study, which also offer a very diverse panorama: “It is as if there were many different epigraphic schools.” Furthermore, he trusts that this is just the beginning: “Above all, what this tablet confirms to us is that Turuñuelo is going to give us a lot of joy. Because it is very plausible that registrations continue to appear.”

Human bones, a hecatomb and the first faces of Tartessus

The slate tablet has been one of the great finds of the sixth excavation campaign of Turuñuelo, within an exterior part of the main building that will provide very important information about the Tartessian productive organization through the work of its artisans, since it has been unearthed different rooms intended for specific activities: a kitchen and bread oven, a potter's room or the one that surely belonged to the goldsmith who owned the sketch board.

This building – whether it was a temple, a palace or perhaps a mixture of both, with something of an administrative center – has represented a great change in the study of Tartessus, where the traditional scarcity of remains has been compensated for decades on many occasions with theories involved in myth and mystery. To begin with, the enormous political and economic power and the great organizational capacity that this construction demonstrates makes it very difficult to continue maintaining that the Tartessian culture did not have its own entity, independent of the Phoenician, despite the fact that contact and trade with it was fundamental. For their develpment.

From the 9th century BC and until its abrupt and enigmatic disappearance four centuries later, this civilization became so brilliant and rich that it excited the imagination of the Greeks, who left references in their texts ranging from Arganthonius to Herakles, the Roman Hercules. Its central nucleus was located between what is now Huelva, Seville and Cádiz, but around the 6th century before our era, probably after a great economic crisis, there was a significant population displacement towards the middle Guadiana Valley, where located some of the most important Tartessian deposits to date. Precisely due to the scarcity of major remains in that central core – probably buried under current Andalusian cities – this Extremaduran periphery has proven essential in trying to clear the mists that still cover Tarteso's study. And, among all of them, the Turuñuelo building stands out without a doubt, due to size, structure, conservation and wealth.

Archive image of two of the jewels unearthed so far in Turuñuelo de Guareña: the monumental staircase and the remains of the sacrifice of more than fifty animals.
Archive image of two of the jewels unearthed so far in Turuñuelo de Guareña: the monumental staircase and the remains of the sacrifice of more than fifty animals. Carlos Carcass

In the construction part, with some elements at the level of the most advanced of the time in the entire Mediterranean, the use of a lime mortar, set later, stands out; signs of a vault in the main room; or the first known architectural decoration of Tartessian: a double rope, a symbol of eternity used throughout the Mediterranean of the ancient world. Among the multitude of unearthed materials, with all types of metals, ivories and ceramic tableware, are the oldest fragment of wool found in the Iberian Peninsula or the first marble sculpture from a time before the arrival of ancient Rome (it even preserves the polychrome: the Egyptian blue of the pedestal and the red of the feet and nails).

Added to this in last year's campaign was the discovery of the remains of five stone sculptures, almost life-size busts that have not only begun to rewrite the history of art, which placed the flowering of sculpture in the Mediterranean in Etruria. and in Greece, but they show for the first time faces that could resemble those of its inhabitants. In addition, the bones of an adult person and the remains of several dozen sacrificed animals have been found, mainly horses, but also cows, pigs and a dog.

However, it is still not well known why, towards the end of the 5th century BC, the locals destroyed everything, buried it and abandoned it forever just after that great ritual sacrifice of animals that makes up the first hecatomb of comparable size. to the religious holocausts described in the Old Testament and the Iliad. The curious thing is that the clay that they later used to bury everything has acted as a kind of protective urn over the centuries that has exceptionally preserved all the remains.

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