The Global Prehistory Consortium at EURO INNOVANET
 Milady Tărtăria and the riddle of dating Tărtăria tablets
by Marco Merlini
6. A little contribution to clarify the meaning and interpretation of the signs

Tărtăria incised signs are believed by a growing number of scholars to be a very early form of writing but the interpretation of the incised messages is far from being elucidated. Several researchers dared to find a meaning for those signs. But the tablets often seem to be some sort of Rorschach test where people project into the inkblots what they have already in their mind.

Now it is urgent to conclude a microscopic examination and an epigraphic study of the signs. In order to give to the Tărtăria tablets their potential value of being written documents, one must observe their signs with certain attention but it is not so easy for three reasons:
  • first, the tablets are very consumed by their use in antiquity and by time;
  • second, due to her/his inexperience and shaky hand, the scribe incised some signs very badly, corrected others while the inscription was in progress (for example the P or D in the upper left quadrant of the discoidal tablet), left some imprints (for example around the hole of the rectangular tablet and on the tree of the other one) and made scratches everywhere;
  • third, generations of scholars tried to decrypt the meaning of the signs on the basis of the drawing that Vlassa did in his article in the Dacia magazine, but some sign reproductions are not correct (for example the vegetal motif on the undrilled tablet) plus the fact that he did not notice some signs.

Research is in progress, but I want to anticipate it with two observations.
  • It may be productive to start thinking of the Tărtăria tablets as loaves of bread made of clay and easily manipulated in ritual. Also the bread-patterns discovered at Ohaba Mâtnic, Vinča, Vršac are pertinent examples of objects bearing texts or sacred symbols utilized during agrarian ceremonies. [52]
  • It is also amazing to note the possibility of overlapping entirely the two tablets which bear a round hole and are divided in cells. The hole on the rectangular tablet precisely fits that one on the circular and the former tablet perfectly covers the upper register of the latter. It means that they have been worn one over the other and the resulting compound had overt and essoteric signs (those on the rectangular tablet and the lower register of the circular one) and hidden and esoteric signs (those on the upper register of the circular tablet). The fact that the two punctured tablets could have been utilized as superimposed essoteric and esoteric amulets is indicative of magical associations of the script. Was the sacred assemblage used in particular during initiation ceremonies? [53]

Merlini Tărtăria | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 |