Thursday, October 27, 2005

Delphi Tablet II

This is another part of the same tablet in the Delphi Museum, #1637. It was one of the pieces originally found in 1893-4. The title on the table or matrix is ΤΑΥΤΑ ΔΙΠΛΑ (These are the doubles).

This matrix represents the consonant blends such as br, bl, gr, gl, ... rather than 'double' consonants. Across the top are the initial consonants BGD TKP TH CH PH M ... Down the side are the second consonants in the consonant blend, in order of frequency, R L N D M B ...

The first group of blends is BR, GR, BL, GL; other groups are DR, TR, KR, PR; DL, TL, KL, PL; BN, GN, DN, TN; THR, THL, THN, THM; CHR, CHL, CHN, CHM; KN, KM, KT, KP and so on.

Most of these sets of four sound values are created from using one shape in four orientations. X which is symmetrical is modified with a dot in four positions.

This form of writing may have had one or more of the following functions, commercial, academic, political, military, espionage, religious, educational (to record lecture notes), etc. to mention a few possibilities.

Whether it was to facilitate writing at the speed of speech, or to convey information in a secret code, is a good question. However, with a secret code, usually there is a one to one mapping of letters, rather than an abbreviated method as is portrayed here. The phonetic organization of letters also suggests that there is more to this than just a secret code. It is likely, however, that the two functions, as shorthand and as a secret code, are related to each other, and one system may have had many uses.

For me this table of Greek consonants is significant since it shows that the use of a shape in four orientations was used for symbols in the 3rd century BC. Many of the shapes are somewhat similar to the shapes which Evans used when designing the Cree Syllabary.

In Evans' syllabary the first two lines use Δ and Λ, which are letters in the Greek alphabet, and are not shown as symbols within the Greek consonant table. However, five of the remaining shapes are very similar to shapes found in the Greek consnant table, and the principle of using four orientations is identical.

I do not have any knowledge of whether Evans studied Greek shorthand. Since there is very little written in English on Greek shorthand, and the tablet above was discovered in 1893, I would suppose not.

However, we do know that Evans learned a shorthand system in England before Pitman had published his system. I am trying to piece together a history of shorthand from classical to Victorian times.

I do have more examples of shorthand from England to scan in - images that I have not yet found on the internet.


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