The Issyk inscription is a yet undeciphered text, found in 1969 on a silver bowl in Issyk kurgan in Kazakhstan, dated at approximately the 4th century BC. The context of the burial gifts indicates that it may belong to Saka tribes.
The Issyk inscription is not yet certainly deciphered, and is probably in a Scythian dialect, constituting one of very few autochthonous epigraphic traces of that language. Harmatta (1999), using the Kharoṣṭhī script, identifies the language as Khotanese Saka dialect spoken by the Kushans, tentatively translating:
|“||za(ṃ)-ri ko-la(ṃ) mi(ṃ)-vaṃ vaṃ-va pa-zaṃ pa-na de-ka mi(ṃ)-ri-to // ña-ka mi pa-zaṃ vaṃ-va va-za(ṃ)-na vaṃ.||”|
|“||The vessel should hold wine of grapes, added cooked food, so much, to the mortal, then added cooked fresh butter on.||”|
Photos of the inscription
- Ahmet Kanlidere, in: M. Ocak, H. C. Güzel, C. Oğuz, O. Karatay: The Turks: Early ages. Yeni Türkiye 2002, p.417:
- "Harmatta [Harmatta 1999, p.411-412] appears as he has accomplished to solve the mystery of this "unknown language and alphabet" which covers a wide are from Alma-Ata to Merv, to Dest-i Navur and to Ay Hanum. According to Harmatta and Fussman, the alphabet can be traced back to the Karoshti alphabet; and the language written with this alphabet could have been a Saka dialect spoken by the Kushans. Harmatta who remarks on the resemblance of the letters to those in Orkhon-Yenisey states that due to some letters [...]. [...]. Fussman states that this Inscription is based on syllables, and notes its similarity to the Kharosthi alphabet, but he could not read it. Livsits asks whether this alphabet he calls as the "third official alphabet of the Kushan State" is the Saka alphabet or not. [...]. Livsits, on the other hand says that, further to the Issyk-kol alphabet, this alphabet is related not with the Kharosthi alphabet, but rather with the Aramaic alphabet [...]."