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GroeneWolf
Sunday, April 15th, 2012, 03:00 PM
The Local (http://www.thelocal.de/national/20120413-41929.html)


Archaeologists have found the oldest engravings of letters ever to be discovered in central Germany, officials from the area announced on Thursday.

The ancient letters, called runes, were scratched onto a 12.5 centimetre-long comb by Germanic settlers in the second century, scientists working on the site in Saxony-Anhalt believe.

The letters spell out “Kama”, meaning comb, the president of the state Heritage and Archaeology Management Office, Sven Ostritz, said on Thursday.

It is the oldest ever example of runic writing to be found in that part of the country, he added.

Germanic languages used the runic alphabet to write before the Latin alphabet became widespread. The earliest runic engravings have been dated back to 150AD.

(...)

Rest at the above link.

And I have to ask how common it was to engrave what an object is on the object? It comes across like they are not telling what the complete inscription says.

Stygian Cellarius
Sunday, April 15th, 2012, 03:43 PM
And I have to ask how common it was to engrave what an object is on the object?

I found this purely utilitarian approach surprising. I was expecting a more sacred treatment of writing during that time.

velvet
Sunday, April 15th, 2012, 04:00 PM
Yeah, one would think so, btw, the article claims it reads "kama", which it doesnt, another article I found claims it is "kaba", here's the image showing the inscription:


http://forums.skadi.net/attachment.php?attachmentid=110736&stc=1&d=1334502290

Sybren
Sunday, April 15th, 2012, 04:05 PM
You're right. The third letter is clearly the rune for 'B'. I cannot see the first rune very well though.

Patrioten
Sunday, April 15th, 2012, 04:22 PM
I think the third letter (though the first one I have a hard time making out as a letter, or rune if you will) looks like an R, as it doesn't seem to connect at the bottom the way a B would.

velvet
Sunday, April 15th, 2012, 04:23 PM
Needed to restart my pc, however, imho it's also not a "B" but an "R", and the first is a back-falling "I"(?), the "k" would look like this: "<", and the second stroke simply isnt there, so I really dont know where they took the "k" interpretation from. :shrug

So it's not kaba or kama, but Iara, which could well be a name, and there have been some objects found with a name on them, so that would make much more sense.

But most interesting is the usage of the Elder Futhark as such at that time.

oreiar
Sunday, April 15th, 2012, 04:29 PM
I found this purely utilitarian approach surprising. I was expecting a more sacred treatment of writing during that time.Most of the surviving runic inscriptions does indeed have a very utilitarian purpose. Most of them consists of short messages about the inscriber's name, his or her title, and often another person the inscription was made in honour or remembrance of. There are also many runic inscriptions that simply states the owner of the item, like this one.

Germaid
Sunday, April 15th, 2012, 04:48 PM
Here is a report about it in German language. The second picture is a close up of the inscriptions. The first letter is indeed a "K", but the < is the other way round. The third letter looks like "B" in this pic.

http://www.archaeologie-online.de/magazin/nachrichten/aeltester-schriftfund-mitteldeutschlands-21205/

http://www.archaeologie-online.de/uploads/pics/runen_th_02.jpg

Patrioten
Sunday, April 15th, 2012, 04:54 PM
Here is a report about it in German language. The second picture is a close up of the inscriptions. The first letter is indeed a "K", but the < is the other way round. The third letter looks like "B" in this pic.

http://www.archaeologie-online.de/magazin/nachrichten/aeltester-schriftfund-mitteldeutschlands-21205/That pictures gives a completely different impression of the runes, the missing leg of the K in velvet's picture shows up as a barely distinguishable grey line now that I look at it again and "know" that something should be there. Strange.

velvet
Sunday, April 15th, 2012, 05:22 PM
^^ I still cant see anything in the other pic, but you're right, it makes a completely different impression. Hmm...

The > direction sign appears in Jera
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/01/Runic_letter_jeran.png

I'm confused :scratch

Dvergr
Sunday, April 15th, 2012, 05:49 PM
^^ I still cant see anything in the other pic, but you're right, it makes a completely different impression. Hmm...

The > direction sign appears in Jera
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/01/Runic_letter_jeran.png

I'm confused :scratch

So then maybe it could literally read "Jara", but would it ever be common to phonetically spell out the name of a rune ?

Ocko
Sunday, April 15th, 2012, 06:06 PM
I read IKARA

velvet
Sunday, April 15th, 2012, 06:32 PM
So then maybe it could literally read "Jara", but would it ever be common to phonetically spell out the name of a rune ?

IF it was jera, the inscription would read Jaba, still cant make anything of that though.

And no, rune names usually werent spelled afaik, besides that it would even make less sense on a comb.

The article Germaid linked also has a picture of the whole thing, although it's way too small and bad quality to see the runes on it, it shows another pattern that looks like a sun right of the place where the runes are, below the middle circle:

http://www.archaeologie-online.de/uploads/pics/runen_th_04.jpg

Germaid
Sunday, April 15th, 2012, 07:26 PM
I think the person who inscripted kaba, just made a "typo" and wrote ">" instead of "<". This is the only version that makes sense in my opinion.

Kamm --> mhg kambe / kamp --> ohg kamb --> germanic kamba (indogermanic gmbho); from http://de.wiktionary.org/wiki/Kamm

The use of kamba also fits the time of the comb, I believe. :shrug

Granraude
Sunday, April 15th, 2012, 07:48 PM
^^ I still cant see anything in the other pic, but you're right, it makes a completely different impression. Hmm...

The > direction sign appears in Jera
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/01/Runic_letter_jeran.png

I'm confused :scratch

There are several finds of "mirrored" runes. Seems the runes meant the same whichever way they faced. Could be a regional thing as well.

Stormraaf
Sunday, April 15th, 2012, 10:30 PM
And I have to ask how common it was to engrave what an object is on the object?

Perhaps it was inscribed by or for someone who was just learning to write, almost like a parent today might label a light switch to remind a young child how 'switch' is spelled.

velvet
Sunday, April 15th, 2012, 10:38 PM
I think the person who inscripted kaba, just made a "typo" and wrote ">" instead of "<". This is the only version that makes sense in my opinion.

Kamm --> mhg kambe / kamp --> ohg kamb --> germanic kamba (indogermanic gmbho); from http://de.wiktionary.org/wiki/Kamm

Well, but this is not what the runes read, there is no mannaz-rune for the m, which would be required in all spelling versions. And Berkano doesnt carry a hidden m-sound either (it's a hard B), so whatever kaba may mean, imho it doesnt mean comb. And since the object was found in a sacrifice well, one also should assume that objects in there arent that profane but have some meaning.

I agree with Granny, didnt think of that earlier, but runes could be written in both directions. Havent seen that (or noticed) it being done for single runes within a word, but may well be.

Germaid
Sunday, April 15th, 2012, 10:48 PM
Well, but this is not what the runes read, there is no mannaz-rune for the m, which would be required in all spelling versions. And Berkano doesnt carry a hidden m-sound either (it's a hard B), so whatever kaba may mean, imho it doesnt mean comb. And since the object was found in a sacrifice well, one also should assume that objects in there arent that profane but have some meaning.



Ah, you're right, I didn't notice. Could it be a name? Apart from this I can't think of anything else right now.

velvet
Monday, April 16th, 2012, 12:35 AM
Ah, you're right, I didn't notice. Could it be a name? Apart from this I can't think of anything else right now.

Hm, maybe it's not a name, but the runes each represent themselves in a sacrificing context. Tacitus told of a ritual for the goddess Nerthus, who would in Norse Mythology be Hel, or a primordial form of Hel, still carrying the fertility aspect (Earth Mother) much stronger than Hel does. However, in that context the choice of runes would make some sense.

Kenaz is the Sacrifice itself (a regeneration/creation through death or sacrifice), or the fire of a torch, the controlled fire, a katalyser. It is also the "human rune" in the context of procreation (fertility, Nerthus), the principle of uniting two to create a new. The Nerthus cult required a human sacrifice in exchange for the fertility she brings.

Ansuz can mean "an ancestral god" (sir), so it may be understood as the title of Nerthus (the ancestral mother of the tribe) in the context of the ritual (like "(we) sacrifice to you, Nerthus" etc).

Berkano is the rune of the goddess Nerthus (in other regions Bertha or Perchta), the Earth Mother and the goddess that presides over the four rites of passage in a human life (birth, adolescense, marriage, death). The rune represents the protecting force over concealing or protecting enclosures, such as caves, lodges (and sacrifice wells?).

Ansuz is the receiver-container / transformer-expressor of spiritual power and numinous knowledge. This force is received from the gods and is to be reexpressed towards the multiverse in magical and religious acts. Ansuz is the medium through which numinous knowledge is received, the container of that force, and the force itself. It's the channel of communication with the gods.


If that is so, then the inscription is both a formal designation for the purpose of the sacrifice, "(we give that) sacrifice (to our) ancestral goddess Nerthus (Bertha, Perchta) for the purpose of closing the fertility cycle (of this year)", and the meaning of the runes would encode the magical purpose of the sacrifice too. Of course, the comb in that case would only have been the possession of the sacrificed girl, the object she was allowed to take with her and not the sacrificed object itself.


Am I far out? :hmm

Hersir
Monday, April 16th, 2012, 12:49 AM
snip

Nerthus is Njord in norse mytholgy.

Archaeology, history, linguistics and the study of the literature give us a picture of runes being simple characters to write with. The whole magic picture stems from esoteric tendencies from the 19. century.

99,9% of runic inscription that exists to date were absolutely non-magical. Just names, short stories or other such stuff.

There are a couple of inscriptions - and I really mean just half a dozen - that perhaps have religious meaning to it. But there it is clear that the WORD had that meaning and not the characters they are written with.

Just like a Christian doesn't think that the Latin or Greek characters itself are magic when you write a psalm or whatever with them.

Hvaml describes how Odin got the runes, not how they were used. It's just a religious explanation how runes were invented. A lot of mythologies have explanations how their writing systems were formed.

And most importantly: the Edda's were written down in the 13. century. Of course there were oral or other pre-versions of them in circulation or know, but fact is: what is written down is from the 13. century AND was written by Christians.

Why would you believe Christians from the 13. century in matters from the 2. - 11. century when archaeology says the opposite?

Dvergr
Monday, April 16th, 2012, 01:10 AM
Words

So if I understand correctly, to sum it up you are saying Runes are basically just literally letters to identify things with, not these sacred / secret characters with multiple mysterious meanings for rituals ?

velvet
Monday, April 16th, 2012, 01:42 AM
Just like a Christian doesn't think that the Latin or Greek characters itself are magic when you write a psalm or whatever with them.

Other languages clearly developed from signes used for ritual purpose. The Egyptians even maintained two written languages, the hyroglyphs for magical, ritual and matters of the empire, and the other for daily usage. Such phases of language development are also known from other languages, and one can see that sometimes signs of the ritual language were incorporated into the daily language or transformed into signs of the daily language.

The signs possess several layers of meaning, they have a name representing the concept or god they connect to (in contrast to the simplicistic Latin, where letters dont have names, only an often crippled phoenetical reference, but some are (used as) numbers), they represent a force or power, they have a phoenetical value and in some languages they also represent a number (the runes didnt, then again, the ttir of the rows do represent numbers, at least a positional reference).

So far, I've not come across a really convincing argument why this should be different with the runes.

Herr Weigelt
Monday, April 16th, 2012, 02:23 AM
That really is a great find and I'm glad they were able to piece together the comb after it was broken apart. I have to wonder if maybe the comb wasn't given to a younger person learning the language and it was given the label "comb" to maybe help them learn the runic written language and/or help them understand what it was used for?

Granraude
Monday, April 16th, 2012, 02:54 AM
Well, the runes spell out Kaba. Where they got the m from, I don't know.

Hersir
Monday, April 16th, 2012, 02:35 PM
Well, the runes spell out Kaba. Where they got the m from, I don't know.

It does read as "kaba". On many websites they say it reads "Kama" which is not entirely true. Before a letter like "b" one does not carve the letter "m". So the word actually reads as "Kamba" which means Comb.