Thursday, September 21, 2006

Olmec writing found & the paths not taken 9 Caban 10 Chen
I saw this article a few days ago and meant to write about it. Then I got insane with my calendar and forgot all about it. Until last night.
Last night I went to a speech at Yale/Peabody by Dr Michael Coe, a famous archeologist who has excavated a lot of Mayan and Olmec sites. He wrote his autobiography and the presentation was bits of it (very interesting life). He started talking about this slab and showed a photo of it and drawings of the writing and told about how some "guardian" is keeping it safe deep in some out-of-the-way little village in Mexico.

An ancient slab of green stone inscribed with insects, ears of corn, fish and other symbols is indecipherable so far, but one message is clear: It is the earliest known writing in the Western Hemisphere. The ancient Olmec civilization probably produced the faintly etched symbols around 900 B.C., or roughly three centuries before what previously had been proposed as the earliest examples of writing in the Americas. The pattern of symbols covering the face of the rectangular block also represents a previously unknown ancient writing system. The text contains 28 distinct glyphs or symbols, some of which are repeated three and four times. The writing system does not appear to be linked to any known later scripts and may represent a dead end....

The weirdest thing happened when I walked into the audotorium. I saw a lot of people I thought I knew. (I did figure out that one guy was on the board of Yale Broadcasting when I worked there, but the others...?) The first person to catch my eye was an old guy at the end of the back row. I said, "there's that guy" but I couldn't remember his name--seemed like James but maybe not. I figured he was probably a volunteer back when I worked at Peabody for a summer playing with dinosaur bones.
Then the MC called Dr Coe up...and he was "that guy" and I've NEVER met Michael Coe in my life. In the pictures I've seen of him he has a beard and he's much younger--this was an elderly clean-shaven guy.
I got a funny feeling as he talked--a "this could have been your life" kind of thing. Half-remembered events I wasn't at. Not really like deja-vu. I'm not doing a good job explaining it at all.
When I was little that's what I wanted to do. Be an archeologist or a paleontologist. I let people talk me out of it. And then I wanted to go into genetics but at that time it wasn't offered as a major anywhere and where it was offered it was only a minor if that. I didn't want to major in BIOLOGY, I wanted to know about genetic manipulation. So I fell back into writing. Not that writing is bad. But I just sometimes sense those other paths. I can only hope that in parallel dimensions some other versions of me did take those paths.
I did get Dr Coe's email address.

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