Talk:Cascajal Block

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No Original Research; no postulating[edit]

Fellow Editors, I have removed the following sentence: "Considering the number of characters and the nature of other writing systems in the area, it is not unreasonable to postulate that the script, when deciphered, will turn out to be syllabic in nature. " We cannot engage in this sort of speculation. If this is the opinion of a noted researcher, let's cite the reference. If it's your opinion, it does not belong in the article. Thanks, Madman 04:13, 17 September 2006 (UTC)

Experts in writing systems (and I am one of them) know that scripts of a certain size are typically syllabaries. It is not wrong to suggest that this may be a syllabary. Other scripts in the region are also syllabaries. And if we were to have to wait until it was deciphered (which it may never be) there would not be very much to say about it at all. -- Evertype· 09:12, 17 September 2006 (UTC)

Cascajal slab page[edit]

I started a separate page called cascajal slab and then noticed this one! Should Cascajal Slab (the artifact) have its own page separate from this, or should it simply redirect here ? --Salsa man 18:38, 17 September 2006 (UTC)

We should merge the information from that article to this one. I'll paste the text into the talk page here, and we can fuse it into the article in due course. -- Evertype· 19:11, 17 September 2006 (UTC) Here's the text:
The Cascajal Slab (or Cascajal Block), is a stone tablet, one side of which is covered with markings which are thought to be the oldest known writing in the world. It is believed to date back to the Olmec culture. The slab was rescued from a quarry in the Veracruz lowlands of Mexico in 1999. It is made of carved serpentine, and is believed to date from 1000 BCE-900 BCE. The meaning of the symbols is currently unknown. The block appears to have been erased and recarved several times.
Say, where does the information about re-carving come from? We should keep the fact about the serpentine. -- Evertype· 19:11, 17 September 2006 (UTC)
Oops, there's already a Cascajal block article. That should be merged over here too. -- Evertype· 19:13, 17 September 2006 (UTC)
We can fuse Cascajal Block in the article Olmec hieroglyphs. What do you think ? Olmeque 20:20, 17 September 2006 (UTC)
Yes, we should do that. -- Evertype· 20:44, 17 September 2006 (UTC)

The info about recarving comes from the New Scientist article, amongst others: They also may have reused the Cascajal slab itself, Houston says, suggesting the inscribed side had been ground down to remove an earlier inscription.--Salsa man 21:03, 17 September 2006 (UTC)


To be consistent with our other articles on Mesomerican scripts/writing (eg Maya script, Isthmian script), I'd like to propose this be renamed to something like Olmec script. Possibly this might be presumptious that these signs do form some kind of writing, but (to me at least) "hieroglyph" has that kind of connotation too. Thoughts, objections?--cjllw | TALK 08:34, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

As no objections were raised, I've moved the article to new title, per the above.--cjllw | TALK 01:42, 4 October 2006 (UTC)
I didn't see that (I was travelling home from Japan when you posted it), but I do object. I think "Hierogyphs" is the better name given the graphic structure, which is a set of unattached individual glyphs, highly pictorial in nature. I'd prefer reversion to the original title, considering the undeciphered nature of the writing system and for what it is worth, Google presence for the term (apart from my own page on the topic) shows that this term has currency. Indeed, the use of "Hieroglyphs" here would help to distinguish it from the Isthmian script, which has a large web presence as "epi-Olmec script". -- Evertype· 15:59, 6 October 2006 (UTC)
Well ok, I suppose that either way there's a potential for some confusion; and in the absence of any well-defined standard nomenclature here, I won't pursue the matter further.--cjllw | TALK 04:52, 9 October 2006 (UTC)

Directionality analysis[edit]

BTW - a recent posting to the AZTLAN list (by Lloyd Anderson) has put forward an interesting and quite plausible-looking proposal as to the text structure and reading-order of the Cascajal block text. In a nutshell, instead of the text being purely linear, he sees instead an arrangement of shorter lines into three columns, with some of the lines in each column to be read boustrophedon-style (once you look at it in this way, the columnar arrangement does rather leap out at you.) Unfortunately the web archiving of AZTLAN postings seems not to be working since it moved to the FAMSI site so this analysis is not available there yet (I could send the email to anyone interested). He mentions that he may well work this up into a publication someplace in the near future.--cjllw | TALK 08:36, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

It seems that FAMSI have now fixed the archiving of AZTLAN postings to their website, so the above-mentioned analysis can be accessed here. --cjllw | TALK 00:40, 4 October 2006 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

Olmec hieroglyphsCascajal Block — The terms "Olmec hieroglyphs" and "Olmec script" are not particularly widespread outside of Wikipedia. The writing is usually just referred to indirectly, as "the text on the Cascajal Block" or the like. —Ptcamn (talk) 16:52, 29 April 2008 (UTC)


Feel free to state your position on the renaming proposal by beginning a new line in this section with *'''Support''' or *'''Oppose''', then sign your comment with ~~~~. Since polling is not a substitute for discussion, please explain your reasons, taking into account Wikipedia's naming conventions.
  • Strongly support In fact, I was planning on do that very thing this weekend, without this discussion (but real life intervened). WP:Name would support "Cascajal block" as well ("Generally, article naming should prefer what the greatest number of English speakers would most easily recognize. . ."). Note that the two non-English Wikipedia articles are also named "Cascajal block". As Ptcamn notes, "Olmec hieroglyphs" could refer to any number of glyphs, including those at San Andres or on La Venta Monument 13. Madman (talk) 17:01, 29 April 2008 (UTC)


Any additional comments:
  • comment: given that this article is almost all about the cascajal block discovery & reactions, I agree it cld make sense to move it to that title. However, I think there's also scope for a broader article that can go into the question of to what extent the Olmec had a writing system, since that's a lively enough topic on its own. Although few in number there are other inscriptions/glyphs attributed to the Olmec period/culture (the Humboldt Celt, La Venta Monuments 13, 19, 26 &c., some misc. pottery, Olmec(oid) inscr. in Guerrero, Chalcatzingo etc). So we cld retain the title Olmec hieroglyphs for this, or use some other, while also having the specific cascajal article. --cjllw ʘ TALK 04:52, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
I would agree with this proposal, and would add the glyphs found at San Andres as well. Why don't I move the article and we can add an article on "Olmec hieroglyphs" or "Olmec writing systems" or ___ when we are able to put this together. Madman (talk) 14:40, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

"A couple years" -- needs re-writing[edit]

The article currently reads:

"Archaeologist Christopher Pool of the University of Kentucky in Lexington has known about the tablet for a couple years."

The phrase "a couple years" is perhaps incorrect today, and will certainly be incorrect within a year or two. This should be re-written to resolve the time ambiguity, e.g. "has known about the tablet since [year]".

Karl gregory jones (talk) 12:59, 6 July 2015 (UTC)

Hope that's better. I changed it to remove that entirely, make it clear Pool was talking in 2010. Doug Weller (talk) 14:44, 6 July 2015 (UTC)

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