The Ancient Sardinians’ Writing System 0 Comments

The Ancient Sardinians’ Writing System

When I arrived in Sardinia for the first time in 1980, I knew nothing about the existence of the Nuragic Civilization. Today it seems to me almost quite incredible but, while its sea of ​​enchanting colours had been identified and launched for tourism in the sixties by Karim Aga Khan, little was known, and mostly little was said, about its incredible ancient civilization. In fact, for too many years it was believed that the ancient Sardinians were an illiterate shepherds’ population, who in order not to be endangered by the continuous invasions they suffered from the sea, had pulled back into the interior of the island devoted to an agro-pastoral life. However, history and archaelogy today sustain that was not true but instead they prove that in Sardinia a very advanced civilization lived, and has left us ample evidence of it: the Nuragic Civilization.

It was in the 19th century that scientific research in pre and protohistoric archaelogy was born through field research expeditions with excavations. In Sardinia in the '30s and' 40s the archaeologist and scholar Doro Levi (see link) resumed the excavations of Anghelu Ruju-Alghero, the research in the Cabu Abbas complex and in the sacred wells of Sa Testa-Olbia and Milis-Golfo Aranci (see link), in the Nuragic village of Serra Orrios, the studies of Nuragic bronzes and more. In 1943 the archaeologist Giovanni Lilliu, probably the greatest scholar of Nuragic civilization, began his activity and, among his many works, also with the excavation of the Nuragic Village of Barumini (from 1951 to 1956). However, it was only in the 60s and 70s that the idea of ​​an island whose history is not marginal but rather incisive in the context of the western Mediterranean becomes consistent. With prehistoric archaelogy, Phoenician-Punic archaelogy also started in Sardinia, see the Mount Sirai’s Nuragic Fortress, a site inhabited by Nuragic and Phoenician people and evidence of an integrated Sardinian-Phoenician community, and The Phoenician Town of Tharros. Since then and until today other scholars have carried out excavations, studies and censuses on the Domus de Janas of Malghesi, the Tombs of the Giants and the Nuragic cult sites dedicated to the waters,  Holy Wells & Sacred Springs.

The relatively recent re-evaluation of Sardinia’s a true role on ancient events is now about to have historical recovery and revenge, being at the turning point where the research would like to be able to give to this ancient civilization also a probable writing system

We find in Egyptian archaeological documents references to the "Peoples of the Sea", including the The Shardana. The term Shardana (Srdn in Egyptian hieroglyphics) has a phonetic correspondence with the ancient name of the island of Sardinia. The Shardana are also mentioned in a stele found in Tanis, Egypt, the Stele II, also called The Sherdan Stele. During the battle of Qadesh (1275 BC) 520 soldiers of the Srdn Sea People are listed as the personal guard of Pharaoh Ramesses II. The warriors of the "People of the Sea" were depicted with circular shields, a helmet with small horns and a long sword. An armament very similar to that of the Nuragic Bronze Statuettes found in Sardinia.

"Sardinia Megalithic Island", the exhibition-event that brought Sardinian archaelogy across Europe, from the end of June 2021 to the end of September 2022, has among its testimonies also a document perhaps fated to transform the writing system history. It is Is-Loccis-Santus, one of the first attestations of the Nuragic writing system. It is a sheet of brown schist that contains logograms, pictograms and linear signs of an archaic consonant alphabet. The importance and inestimable preciousness of the object of Is-Loccis-Santus is that the palaeographic and linguistic analysis reveals the name of the noun "bidente" - b d n t -, Sardinian Nuragic word Bipenne, symbol of the astral divinity. 

It seems like an insignificant trifle, right? No, it could be the tip of a marvellous, hitherto ignored iceberg. The text could prove the presence on the island of a Sardinian-Indo-European linguistic base, pre-existing to the Canaanite, Sinaitic, Phoenician-Punic and Roman dominations.

In short, Ancient Sardinian would be a sister language and not a daughter of Latin, of the same lineage as Greek, Germanic, Sanskrit, etc. A window opens into a total darkness, through which one could begin to “read” the Nuragic Sardinia’s civilization.

A darkness that with the Dueno’s Vase, the linguist Bartolomeo Porcheddu, professor of the Sardinian language laboratory at the Cagliari University, had already tried to light when he declared that: “The oldest Latin document is written in Sardinian. Dueno's Vase is a talking objectand more: “… ancient Sardinian has been the universal language of the Mediterranean for years. In 600 BC we are in a declining phase of the Nuragic civilization, but the influence of the language is still very strong. The Latin that will then be used will be founded on ancient Sardinian’s basis, the language to which Greek cases will be applied.” “Nobody has noticed it for two thousand years, because nobody has focused on the comparative study between Latin and ancient Sardinian"

“Every language is an alphabet of symbols the employment of which assumes a past shared by its interlocutors.” (Jorge Luis Borges)


Written by Daniela Toti

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