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(BBC)   8,600-year-old writings discovered in China. Believed to be Strom Thurmond's grocery list   ( divider line
    More: Cool  
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66 clicks; posted to Main » on 17 Apr 2003 at 8:18 PM (14 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

65 Comments     (+0 »)

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2003-04-17 05:14:45 PM  
Props to the headline writer.
2003-04-17 06:19:20 PM  
Were they actually....Bob Hope's original jokes?
2003-04-17 07:02:26 PM  
They have now been translated:

One shell says, "Hey, Alladin, rub THIS"

The other says, "Admit One, Gomorrah Theater, Cher Comeback Tour"
2003-04-17 08:23:47 PM  
ha ha you so funny!
2003-04-17 08:24:44 PM  
In other news, Strom Thurmond just turned 137 years old.
2003-04-17 08:24:48 PM  
headline sux!! strom isnt from china, shoulda used someone elses name FOOL
2003-04-17 08:25:17 PM  
Obviously the Chinese invented turtle contact renses.
2003-04-17 08:25:36 PM  
I thought Strom was black.

2003-04-17 08:26:33 PM  
Well, well, surprise surprise.

Just 2 years ago, writing was 'discovered' in Iraq 'proving' that was where the written word evolved, i.e. the 'birthplace of civilisation'.

Soon put a stop to that, eh?
2003-04-17 08:27:21 PM  
strom isnt from china, shoulda used someone elses name FOOL

True, but it was still funny.
2003-04-17 08:29:25 PM  
So the cradle of civilization is China, not ancient Babylon?
2003-04-17 08:29:37 PM  

"everytime you masturbate, God sacrifices a kitten"
2003-04-17 08:30:51 PM  
Just remember, every time they find an older artifact of whatever kind, it's not the first one ever. It's the just the oldest one found so far.

If biologically modern humans go back, say, three million years, it's pretty damned unlikely that archaeologists are going to find something from Modern Human Day One. This principle applies across the board.

Ergo, odds are low that they'll ever find the oldest (ie, first) version of anything that wasn't invented in the last few hundred years. They find old stuff all the time, but they won't likely find the very oldest stuff.
2003-04-17 08:34:02 PM  
Deciphered: "Damn Mongorians! You knock down my sheetty wall!"
2003-04-17 08:34:26 PM  
So the cradle of civilization is China, not ancient Babylon?

Who decides what the start of "civilization" is? We already know that some pre-modern hominids (ie, prehistoric pre-humans more 'primitive' than modern humans) had some of the elements of civilization millions of years ago. They didn't have flush toilets, no, but they had assembly line-style work groups for knapping stone and cracking marrow bones and so forth.

Neanderthals made apparently religious items and seem to have formally buried their dead -- dressing them up, digging graves, adding religious items to the grave, etc.

The "cradle of civilization" is wherever modern humans first arose. No one knows where that was, but the strong evidence still suggests Africa. In any case, it was a lot earlier than this particular Chinese stuff.
2003-04-17 08:35:01 PM  
Ancient Chinese secret to get ninja out of turtle...
2003-04-17 08:37:13 PM  
Zhuge Liang is not amused.
2003-04-17 08:41:23 PM  
Hahaha... fundies will have a fit.
2003-04-17 08:43:47 PM  

I was under the impression that "civilization" spread from a single population center outward, like spokes out from an axle.

I assumes that all language desended from one language, (i.e.- tower of babel-esqe stories), and I would assume that along with spoken word comes written word. Wouldn't this recent Chinese find challenge that logic? If not, then how much earlier is the african "cradle" supposed to have existed?

I understand what you are stating. Maybe you can 'splain this.
2003-04-17 08:45:48 PM  
It says its symbols, not writing. Symbols have been around for quite a long time - e.g. cave paintings.
Back in the day, Strom probably wrote his grocery lists w/ inks and paints made from crushed berries, mud, animal blood or tree sap.
2003-04-17 08:47:10 PM  
I read the Basque people in Spain defy all "cradle of civilzation" theories anyway.
2003-04-17 08:49:45 PM  
I wonder what Bryan from Color Me Badd has to say about this.
2003-04-17 08:56:44 PM  
Maybe you can 'splain this.

Well. For starters, I don't believe that civilization started in one place, with one population, and spread outward. A lot of that kind of thing went on, but what we now consider "civilization" arose unevenly, in fits and starts, with a lot of backsliding, and it was the result of the efforts of lots of different groups and cultures, at different times, in different places.

Moreover, just as things like the idea of building pyramids arose separately, without the need for cross-fertilization, a lot of the elements of civilization were doubtlessly invented more than once, in different places.

Frex, the Australian aborigines had a very functional civilization -- albeit one very different from the Western European model -- before encountering white folks. They had language, religion, recorded narratives and literary traditions, music, government, you name it. And they'd been isolated for at least 40,000 years.

Moreover, I really, really doubt that all languages descended from one language. The only way that that could realistically happen, in my opinion, is if (A) humans developed language before there were more than a few hundred of them in existence, and thus before they spread out, and (B) if no human group ever re-developed from a 'feral' state.

There are anthropological counter-examples to (B), so that certainly doesn't seem to be true. As for (A), the only realistic way that could have happened is if all human language is derived from a pre-human language. Frex, if Homo sapiens copied its language from, say, Homo habilis.

Not impossible, although lots of folks would have a hard time believing it. And, anyway, it doesn't satisfy condition (B).

But, to answer the last part of your questions, my guess is that recognizeable human civilizations, per se, probably arose not less than 50 thousand years ago, and very possibly 100 thousand years ago. Probably in Africa first, because there were particularly old, stable, and large human populations there, but robust and more-nearly-modern civilizations could just as easily have first arisen in the Middle East, Mesopotamia, all around the Mediterranean (including in areas no longer inhabitable and difficult to study, such as areas now underwater -- near Malta, the shores of the Black Sea, etc), Asia Minor, almost anywhere in Europe, etc.

Tough to know. It's been a long time, and a lot of the evidence that might have otherwise hung would have been obliterated by the Ice Ages. Glaciation is rough on a town, after all, and there's been lots of subsequent human activity.
2003-04-17 08:58:58 PM  
I bet you the turtle shells are 8600 years old, but the writing is only like 5000 years old.
2003-04-17 09:01:48 PM  

Man! Thanks for the reply! That explaination beat anything I was lectured on in my World History 101 class.

The Canadian Shield thanks you for the Glaciation props, BTW. :)
2003-04-17 09:02:23 PM  
Bad thing is they found the shells filled with SARS diarrhea. No ticky, no drinky!
2003-04-17 09:07:35 PM  
Great headline...
2003-04-17 09:10:22 PM  
But...the looters in bagdad stole a sumerian tablet made about 5000 years ago, believed to be the oldest writing in the world...

ever hear of Egypt?

them Kam (ancient name for egyptians) were around 10,000+ years ago, writing up a storm...

Creationists will tell you the Earth is only 5000 years old.
2003-04-17 09:16:48 PM  
Dungmuffin sez: Symbols have been around for quite a long time - e.g. cave paintings.

Damn straight. And a lot of coastal caves around the Mediterranean are now underwater, largely inaccessible, and, anyway, any paintings may have washed away by now.

Plus, we only (mostly) find cave paintings from that far back . . . because what else would have survived? They may have painted on flat pieces of wood, say, but how many of those paintings would still be hanging around and waiting to be found? Not many. Unlikely we'd find any.

For all we know, cave paintings were all done by children and dilettantes, and the really important stuff was done in other places where it didn't last as long. Maybe that's all paleolithic graffiti.

They probably weren't trying to send messages tens of thousands of years into the future, so they probably weren't so worried about making paintings, etc, that would survive that long. We sure don't now. My hard drive and CD-ROMs won't be too useful for archeologists in another 50,000 years, and neither will my paperback books.
2003-04-17 09:18:34 PM  
symbol # 1 = "salty"
symbol # 2 = "sweet"
symbol # 3 = "shiat"
symbol # 4 = "good for soup"
2003-04-17 09:22:06 PM  
In other news, Baghdad looters heading to China...
2003-04-17 09:27:48 PM  
If I'm not mistaken, wasn't a huge deal made recently because the "oldest writing" was looted in Iraq? And a couple of days later (before the bad taste settles, of course), we find an even older writing elsewhere in the world?

Coincidence? Probably.
2003-04-17 09:28:23 PM  
Let's ask these nice men in black suits at my door what they think.
2003-04-17 09:46:09 PM  
A close examination reveals that the writing is actually a claim ticket at a Chinese laundry. Their calendar is a bit different. But if my translation is correct, it says the pants will be ready next Tuesday.
2003-04-17 09:50:38 PM  
Geez dont you people know anything. The turtle shells are extra terrestrial in origin and the writings are in an early chinese dialect that translates into passages from genesis (the biblical story, not the crappy rock band). All of this is proof that we are all alien.

*wanders off back to watch hix X-Files DVD's some more*
2003-04-17 09:58:10 PM  
there was like totally egg, milk and bacon on that list.... because you like need those to make an omlet or something... well a good one
2003-04-17 10:02:38 PM  
HomestartJunior, you obviously know too much. You will be soon visited by this gentleman.
2003-04-17 10:02:54 PM  
This is just in time. With so many ancient writings lost in Bahgdad we needed something to make their destruction seem less tragic.
2003-04-17 10:04:07 PM  
Let's try that again. . .
[image from too old to be available]

Forbidden my butt. *sigh*
2003-04-17 10:08:57 PM  
Best headline ever.
2003-04-17 10:19:42 PM  
Wait a minute! I thought the world was created by YHWH like 4,000 years ago! Wazzup wid dat? If that's true, then these writings *can't* be 8,000 years old. That'd contradict the Bible!
2003-04-17 10:24:38 PM  
good headline, but i would have gone with 'strom thurmond's birth certificate'. i dunno why, but it's a little funnier. also, strom thurmond sucks.
2003-04-17 10:25:16 PM  
also, thurmond prolly thinks shopping for groceries is 'woman's work'...haha
2003-04-17 10:30:19 PM  
The ancient script has been identified as local news headlines stolen from Fark.

Wha??? Can we get a confirmation on this? Those bastards.
2003-04-17 10:33:10 PM  
First of all Strom would be right, it is womans work, and second of all Strom was a hell of a senator in his day and got more tail, and higher quality tail than Ole Bill Clinton ever thought of getting. He was always known for being the easiest senator for his constituents to get help from, and I know from personal experience since his office helped me get my veterans benefits when the VA was being stubborn.
2003-04-17 10:35:02 PM  
Its Ok Wydok

I got the giant hydraulic needle ready for him.

Ok that just sounds wrong, particularly putting it in the base of his neck. ewwww!
2003-04-17 10:39:07 PM  
Oh and here in SC when they were raising the Hunley (Civil War sub that was the first to sink a ship in combat) there was a joke that circulted that they found a Re-elect Strom Thurmond Bumper Sticker on the hull.
2003-04-17 10:45:51 PM  
Did anybody else notice the link to "Ancient writing found in Turkmenistan" on the same page? First sentence in that story:

"A previously unknown civilisation was using writing in Central Asia 4,000 years ago, hundreds of years before Chinese writing developed, archaeologists have discovered."

2003-04-17 10:53:48 PM  
Just wondering what you think of the historical linguistic theory of Prot-Indo European (PIE, as in 'Get me some'). Although there is an acknowledgement of fit and start development in linguisic evolution, PIE pretty much covers the brances of all modern language- of course, wth the exception of the Basque. Damn Basque.
Damn Basque. These are some nutty linguists on the fringe of the field that think Basque was taught to the speech community by aliens, hence we cannot trace its roots in parent languages. I have tried myself to even look at Basque on a rudimentary level of inspection, and I would tend to agree with the loony linguists on this one. They pretty much break all of the rules.
2003-04-17 10:55:54 PM  
Errr. PROTO-Indo European.
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