Sunday, November 8, 2009

Random Stuff from Last Six Months

The main Ancient Scripts website is extremely neglected to say the least. Sad thing is that I have a lot of new content in the pipeline, but it's hard to find the necessary time to get it all done and polished for prime time. So until I'm satisfied, here is a preview.

One thing in the pipeline is a page about quipu, the ancient South American accounting system using knots on a rope that may or may not be a real writing system. In a nutshell, quipu is a base-10 numerical system where each "digit" is a group of knots. The number of knots in a group determines its "digit" value. For example, three knots would represent 3. Also, different kinds of knots had different functions. I replicated quipu knots on some kitchen twines, as illustrated below.

More interesting than practicing tying knots is some recent research suggesting that more than just numerical information is encoded in quipu. There is evidence of place names in quipus marking its geographic origin. And more controversially is the claim that quipu could represent language and thus represented a true writing system. For more details, though, you'll have to wait for the page to be finished.

Other things in the pipeline include some new content about Tangut (Xixia), Teotihuacan, rovas, and revision of existing content such as Chinese, Tifinagh, and cuneiform.

Talking about cuneiforms, a little while ago I was driving through Sonoma county (aka wine country) here in Northern California and I saw this on the corner of my eye. I had to make a U-Turn to take this picture:

Surprisingly, the Sumerian cuneiform signs for EN-KI-DU are correct. Apparently it is a local Sonoma winery. I've never heard of it, but then again, I'm not a big drinker and there are several dozens if not hundreds of wineries in the wine country.

And, no, I did not stop for wine tasting.

Finally, I'm a big foodie, and one of my favorite "celebrity" chefs that I follow on Twitter is Rick Bayless, the chef/owner of Frontera Grill and Topolobambo in Chicago, both of which serve Mexican faire. Recently he opened a new restaurant called Xoco (pronounced sho-ko) which means little sister in modern Mexican slang but has a very ancient etymology in Nahuatl. So I made a little explanation of this word and how it would've been written in Aztec hieroglyphs and tweeted it to him. He found this little chart really cool.

All this thanks to the new Aztec syllabary (per Alfonson Lacadena) which I'll be adding to the Aztec page soon...ish.

I hope there's enough nuggets in this post to keep you from thinking that Ancient Scripts is dead.