Clay tablet fragments, inscribed with what appear to be the Linear A writing system of ancient Crete, were found by recreational scuba divers off Blacktip Island’s east coast. (photo courtesy of Zde)
Scuba divers on Blacktip Island’s east coast Thursday discovered clay tablet fragments inscribed with what experts say is the never-deciphered Linear A writing system used by ancient Minoans.
“It was the damnedest thing,” divemaster Gage Hoase said. “Last week’s storms had shifted the sand around and uncovered a bunch of stuff. I was looking at a sea slug on some exposed rock and noticed a flat piece of clay with some scratchings on it. Then another.
“I didn’t think anything of it ‘til I showed them to Lucille Ray,” Hoase said. “She’s a history buff, and her jaw about hit the ground. Said she’s only ever seen Linear-whatsits in textbooks and museums. We’re going out again this afternoon to see if there’s any more.”
Experts are divided on how the fragments came to Blacktip Island.
“Linear A was used solely by the Minoans, and no one’s used it since about 1400 BC,” Ray said. “The only known samples of it are from Crete and the Greek mainland. The obvious answer is the fragments were stolen from a museum, then fell, or were tossed, overboard. And since there’s no marine growth on them, that happened fairly recently.”
“No growth on ‘em ‘cause they was buried in the sand. Long time ago,” handyman Antonio Fletcher said. “That means Minoans visited Blacktip way back when. They were a seafaring people, you know.
“End of the Bronze Age, Mediterranean culture collapsed, folks were on the move,” Fletcher said. “Why couldn’t Minoans have sailed to Blacktip? Good chance they’re our ancestors. There’s locals who got a Greek look to them. Could be descended from ancient Cretans.
Some in the small Caribbean island’s academic community disputed the find.
“It’s just bits of clay with some random scratching on them,” Tiperon University-Blacktip archeology professor Dunning von Kruger said. “There’s no indication it’s Linear A, or any other writing system. It’s far more likely to be a child’s scibbling than ancient writing.
“There’s also an excellent chance this is a weak attempt at a hoax,” von Kruger said. “It’s Gage and Lucille we’re talking about here. It smacks of a sad cry for attention. And validation.”
Experts, meanwhile are keeping a close watch on the fragments.
“We have the fragments locked up at the museum to study, with archival gloves and whatnot,” Blacktip Island Museum curator Lefty Wright said. “Mostly relying on YouTube and the Google. We think we have a good shot at finally deciphering Linear A. The pussy-cat pictogram’s the key.
“The national museum on Tiperon’s interested, too. They’re sending one of their top people over to have a look. She specializes in Medieval barter systems, though, so that may be a wash. Worst case, the fragments’ll go to the Blacktip Island Museum, and sit alongside the cannon ball and turtle shell.”
Hoase and Ray have not disclosed the exact site of the find to discourage potential looters.