Two clay tablets may help decipher a language whose existence has been doubted

Article bay
4 min readFeb 2, 2023

Scientists say clay tablets found in Iraq may contain clues to help decipher the “lost” Amorite language, which resembles Hebrew and Aramaic. Experts have claimed for years that the ancient Amorites spoke Akkadian.

[Photo: UNESCO / Dominique Roger, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO, via Wikimedia Commons]

Since the invention of writing, historical and archaeological knowledge has relied heavily on written sources. This is because it is much easier to read chronicles written down by eyewitnesses than it is to analyze and reconstruct past events based on dubious circumstantial evidence. However, ancient languages can also be a dead end. The problem is that there are still several languages and writing systems that have not been deciphered.

There are still undeciphered ancient languages in the world

Scientists have been trying for years to read ancient tablets and inscriptions written in Linear A, Protoelamic or Tocharian script, among others. The deciphered writing system makes it possible to read texts that may contain valuable information about the lives of ancient people. On the other hand, scholars sometimes encounter cases where very mundane inscriptions are found on artifacts. Such as the one inscribed on a Semitic comb. It contained instructions on how to get rid of human lice.