Analysis of a Second Proto-Cuneiform Tablet for Astronomical Alignments

Midnight Science (2013-2014), Volume 11, Paper 5

Author: Derek Cunningham

Paper Submitted: 24th June 2013, Published: 24th June 2013


Prior analysis of multiple archaic artifacts has produced strong evidence that multiple stones bearing “enigmatic” straight lines can be explained using the theory that the lines are a geometrical compressional writing. To date the oldest identified artifact with geometrical writing is the Bilzingsleben engraved bone at circa 300,000 to 400,000 years old (19). The geographical extent of geometrical writing is worldwide, with archaic samples constructed on an identical astronomical template uncovered in even very remote regions, such as the deep Amazon Jungle, and Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean. Outside of Europe currently the oldest known sample is the circa 100,000 to 70,000 year old Blombos Cave carved ochres in South Africa (17), and a 30,000 year old engraved stone found at Shuidongguo in China (20). In this study the intent is to study the transition from paleolithic geometrical writing to more “modern” circa 5,000 year old writing styles. The sample investigated in this specific study is a clay tablet bearing proto-cuneiform currently in the possession of the British Museum. A detailed study shows the stone contains numerous features that are consistent with both earlier paleolithic-era stones and later Irish Ogham text.


Mesopotamian clay tablets, such as the ME 140855 tablet currently stored at the British Museum, have routinely been identified as examples of early writing (1), with the various lines found on the tablets routinely translated to reflect the ancient process of beer making (2). There is however a major problem. As Peter Damerow of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science stated recently “there is, however, no conclusive archaeological evidence for the invention of beer brewing technology as early as the beginning of the Neolithic period” (2). In fact the only evidence for beer making in the region in question is the subjective analysis of neolithic cuneiform writing found on various clay tablets.

It is interesting to note for all the confidence placed by experts in linguistics that the text revolve around the importance of alcohol, no tablets has yet been found that states any clearly identifiable method for producing beer. Instead most are supposedly documentary text, in essence mathematical records, that simply record the amount of alcohol consumed, or traded.

Based on an extended study of a variety of engraved stones found throughout Britain (3-17), some of which are circa 5,000 to 6,000 years old, an initial analysis of the structure of proto-cuneiform text on tablet ME 140855 (currently part of the British Museum Collection) confirmed a hunch, by the author, that the structure of proto-cuneiform might be entirely consistent with the theory that early Mesopotamian text is not related to the art of beer drinking but is instead astronomical text that is written in a compressional format – a written form where an entire idea, rather than a single word, is compressed into a single glyph (18).

The most interesting result is that despite the substantial time period, between the first recorded samples to exhibit astronomical text, this being the circa 300,000 to 400,000 year old Bilzingsleben  fan motif (19), to the first known appearance of Ogham and Pictish Symbols in Britain approximately 1,500 years ago (3-17) the same astronomical values are used, an they are used worldwide (1-20).

This common structure might be because the astronomical values used in archaic proto-writing are those that are the most important for physically measuring time, and predicting the onset of eclipses. This creates approximately 8 standard astronomical values that usually account for more than 85% of all observed lines.

The term compressional writing was first introduced by the author to describe the simplification and modification of astronomical values to an angular array so that the writing appears artistic, while at the same time retaining its original astronomical meaning (17). Compressional writing differs from both glottographic (phonetic) text, which employs symbols to express specific sounds, and semasiographic text, which is text that employ specific symbols that may have no correlation to a spoken word, such as pointing a finger to indicate a preferred direction on a path.

Compressional astronomical text also differs from other known writing systems in that the writing can reflect more than just one single idea – such as the pointing finger example described above. For example though linear data may reflect knowledge of the motion of astronomical bodies, the values can also contain knowledge of solstices, farming practices, mathematical awareness, and even navigational data, where encoded data present within the astronomical data can permit a reader to locate nearby and distant settlements (see 400,000 Years of Stone Age Science (17)). In this way compressional writing is more like a book, with each glyph containing multiple meanings and knowledge.

As a follow-up to the initial study of proto-cuneiform, it was determined that multiple tablets containing proto-cuneiform writing will have to be analyzed to determine at what point geometrical writing ceased in Mesopotamia. The purpose of this study is therefore to analye the astronomical data contained in a second circa 5,000 year old clay tablet to determine if the lines on the tablet align to the same angles as those described on the previously studied tablet # ME 140855, (British Museum). The tablet analyzed here is another as yet unidentified, tablet stored at the British Museum.


The standard list of astronomical values used for this and all prior studies are those that are physically employed in the measurement of time and the prediction of eclipses.

The optimum month used for measuring time is the sidereal month, which is 27.32 days long (half value 13.66 days). This is the month that marks the time it takes for the moon to pass over the same star twice.

Once this value is known the next value of importance is the circa 1 degree motion of earth as it travels around the sun. This is easily measured as a consequence of studying the sidereal month.

Once the length of the year is known the next astronomical parameter of importance is teh 6.511 draconic months between eclipse events. This equals 6 synodic months. However to accurately calculate eclipse events it is also required to know that the orbit of the moon is inclined by 5.1 degrees from the earth ecliptic.

Next, any astronomer would note the 18.6 year precession of the lunar nodal cycle, which equals the 9.3/18.6 year period for lunar standstills. Finally there is a value of 11 degrees which equals the 11 day difference between the solar and lunar year.

Taken together the standard values used in analyzing neolithic and paleolithic engraved stones are zero degrees; 1.0 degrees, which represents the daily motion of the earth around the sun; 5.1 degrees, which represents the angle of the moons orbit; 6.5 degrees, the eclipse semester measured in draconic months (this equals 6 synodic months); 9.3 and 18.6 the lunar nodal cycle; 13,66/27.32 angle is the half- and full sidereal month; and 11 degree that represents the difference between the solar and lunar year.

To analyze the clay tablet the tablet is simply rotated to one of the lower angles provided in the standard astronomical list, and the remaining lines analyzed to determine if the lines match any of the other listed values. If no match is found then the tablet is simply rotated to the next astronomical value and the process repeated. As with all prior studied in this series, it was found that the clay tablet aligns easily to the listed values.

And as with numerous prior studies the tablet also exhibits a secondary alignment with the lines replicated, in this case, after a rotation of 90 degrees


In this study it is found that even the smallest lines are found to align to the listed values, perhaps suggesting that the the observed drawing may have been replicated mechanically from a larger drawing, and was not drawn by hand. There also exists a 90 degree rotational symmetry that permits the tablet to be read either horizontally or vertically.

Discussion and Conclusions

Overall the lines show once more good agreement with the core central values used throughout this extended series. It thus appears that early proto-cuneiform text was constructed to express astronomical knowledge.

WIthin this study the circular imprints were not analyzed. It is very probable that the circular imprints reflect lunar data. This is directly implied by the presence of both full circles, and semi-circles drawn beside each other. However, it might also be possible that the data might represent solar data. Further studies will be necessary to determine if the circles reflect knowledge of eclipse events, and to determine the reason for their distribution.


  1. The First Writing: Script Invention as History and Process, edited by Stephen D. Houston
  2. Peter Damerow, Sumerian Beer: The Origins of Brewing Technology in Ancient Mesopotamia, Cuneiform Digital Library Journal 2012:002 ISSN 1540-8760.
  3. D. Cunningham, Direct Comparison of Pictish and Ogham Astronomical Text on the Brandsbutt Ogham Pictish Stone: Confirmation that Ogham and Pictish Glyphs are Compression Languages. Midnight Science Vol 11 (2013-2014), Paper 1.
  4. D. Cunningham, Analysis of the Orkney Venus: Suggestion of Proto-writing in the Alignment of the Etched lines Present on the Orkney Venus Statue to Standard Lunar Astronomical Values, and the Suggestion of an Archaic Global Civilization, Midnight Science Vol. 8 (2011-2012), Paper 2.
  5. D. Cunningham, Accurate Drawing of the Earth and Moon in Pictish Artwork: A Detailed Analysis of the Invereen Stone, Midnight Science Vol. 8, (2011-2013) Paper 4
  6. D. Cunningham, The Decorated Stone of Skara Brae: Presence of Astronomical Data Similar in Structure to that seen at the Irkutsk Geoglyph Field Midnight Science Vol. 9 (2012-2013), Paper 1.
  7. D. Cunningham, Analysis of the Aberlemno 1 (Serpent Stone): Evidence of Accurate Knowledge of the Moon’s Orbit in Pictish Artwork, Midnight Science Vol. 9 (2012-2013), Paper 2.
  8. D. Cunningham, Interpretation of Astronomical Data in Pictish Artwork: Analysis of the Aberlemno III Pictish Stone, Midnight Science Vol. 9 (2012-2013), Paper 3.
  9. D. Cunningham, Analysis of the Fiscavaig Pictish Stone: The Presence of Basic Astronomical Data, Midnight Science Vol. 9 (2012-2013), Paper 4.
  10. D. Cunningham, Analysis of the Astronomical Data Contained in the Dunnichen Stone, Midnight Science Vol. 9 (2012-2013), Paper 5.
  11. D.Cunningham, Presence of Proto-Writing in the Engraved Stones uncovered at the Orkney Ness Site, Midnight Science Vol. 8, (2013-2014).
  12. D. Cunningham, Development of Ogham writing from Lunar Astronomical Values: Analysis of the Ardmore I Stone, Midnight Science, Vol. 10 (2013-2014), Paper 8.
  13. D. Cunningham, Analysis of Ballintaggart I Ogham: Apparent Confirmation that Ogham Writing was Constructed Using Simple Astronomical Values, Midnight Science Vol. 10 (2013-2014), Paper 9.
  14. D. Cunningham, Analysis of the Ballintaggart III Ogham Stone using Astronomical Values to Explain the Angular Alignment of the Drawn Lines, Midnight Science Vol. 10 (2013-2014), Paper 10.
  15. D. Cunningham, The Astronomical Origin of Ogham Writing: Analysis of the Lunar Data Contained on the Drumconwell Ogham Stone, Midnight Science Vol. 10 (2013-2014), Paper 11.
  16. D. Cunningham, Direct Comparison of Pictish and Ogham Astronomical Text on the Brandsbutt Ogham Pictish Stone: Confirmation that Ogham and Pictish Glyphs are Compression Languages, Midnight Science Vol. 11 (2013-2014), Paper 1.
  17. 400,000 Years of Stone Age Science, Author Derek Cunningham, Amazon Kindle.
  18. D. Cunningham, Analysis of Mesopotamian Cuneiform Writing: Evidence for the Presence of Compressional Astronomical Writing in Mesopotamian Text that is Identical in Structure to later Ogham and Pictish Scripts, Midnight Science Vol. 11 Paper 3.
  19. D. Cunningham, Presence of Astronomical Art in the 400,000 year old Bilzingsleben Bone Artifacts, Midnight Science Vol. 9 (2012-2013), Paper 9.
  20. D. Cunningham, Analysis of the Astronomical Data Contained within the Engraved Stone uncovered at the Shuidonggou Paleolithic Site, Northwest China, Midnight Science Vol. 9 (2012-2013), Paper 6.

© 2010 – 2013 Derek Cunningham; Midnight Science, ISSN 2160-0201; Volume 11, Paper 5.







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