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5000 BC squiggles a ‘protoscript’

Three lines of notches and squiggles on a 7,000-year-old sealstone from central Macedonia may represent the earliest known form of writing in the world, an archaeologist implied on Saturday. Panayiotis Chryssostomou, who excavated a series of Neolithic settlements around the town of Yiannitsa, some 65 kilometers west of Thessaloniki, carefully avoided sensational language. He told a conference in Thessaloniki on recent archaeological work in Macedonia and Thrace that the scratchings on the inside of the 5.5-centimeter-long seal could be a «protoscript.» The markings, some of which are repeated, occupy three parallel lines. They start off quite broad, but get cramped towards the end, as the scribe ran out of space. The earliest Greek script deciphered, Linear B, was used in Mycenaean times, after the mysterious Linear A and hieroglyphic scripts.