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World's oldest writing is set to be deciphered by University experts
10:20am Tuesday 23rd October 2012 in News
THE world’s oldest undeciphered writing system is close to being cracked by Oxford University researchers.
The system used in ancient Iran from 3,200 to 3,000 BC has defied efforts to decode its secrets for 5,000 years.
But new technology developed at Oxford and Southampton could result in scholars finally being able to understand it.
The researchers have developed a way of producing high-quality images of the so-called proto-Elamite writing.
It is hoped that the quality of the images mean the system will be cracked after they are shared with scholars around the world.
Dr Jacob Dahl, of Oxford University’s Faculty of Oriental Studies, said: “I have spent the last 10 years trying to decipher the proto-Elamite writing system. With this new technology, I think we are finally on the point of making a breakthrough.
“The quality of the images captured is incredible. We have never been able to view documents in this quality before. “And it is important to remember that you cannot decipher a writing system without having reliable images because you will, for example, overlook differences barely visible to the naked eye which may have meaning. Consider for example not being able to distinguish the letter i from the letter t.”
The new technique, known as Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) is already being used to capture some of the world’s most important historical documents and was recently used on objects in the vaults of the Louvre Museum in Paris.