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• Strategy: Generate Questions
• Skill: Evaluate Author's Perspective
• corridor, creased, enlisted, invasion,
location, reservations, sagged,
• Context Clues
Words related to ancient languages
(see glossary)
• Early Cultures
Published by Macmillan/McGraw-Hill, of McGraw-Hill Education, a division of
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., Two Penn Plaza, New York, New York I0IZI.
Copyright© b  Macmillan/McGraw-Hill. All rights reserved. No part of this publication
may be reprouced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or
retrieval system, without the prior written consent of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.,
including, but not limited to, network storage or transmission, or broadcast for distance
Printed in the United States of America
Z J ¼ b b 1B9 0Zb I0 09 0B 010b
**The total word count is based on words in the running text and headings only.
Numerals and words in captions, labels, diagrams, charts, and sidebars ore not included.
by Dina Anastasio
TðDle0f C0ntent5
Introduction ¢ ¢ a a a a a ¢ a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a s ¤ ¤ a a a a Z
Chapter One
Locked Languages a a ¢ a a a ¤ a a a ¢ a a a a a ¢ a a a ¤ ¢ ¢ ¢ a a a a ¬
Chapter To
Unlocked Languages # a # # # # a a a a a ¢ ¶ a a a ø a a a a a a a a ¢ Û
Chapter Three
Missing Pieces a a a a a a a ø a a ¢ ¤ a a a ¢ a ø ¢ a a a a a a a a a a a a 1Z
Chapter Four
Searching for Answers a a a a a ø ¤ a a a a a ¢ a a a a # s a a a a a 1Õ
Conclusion a ¢ a a a ø ¤ a a s a a a a a s a a a a a a a a a a e s a a a a a a ZL
Glossary ¢ a a ¢ ¢ ¢ ¢ a a a a ¢ a ¢ a a a ¢ ¢ ¢ a a a ¢ ¢ s a a a s ¢ ¤ a ¤ a a ZZ
Index a a a a a a a ¢ a ¢ a a a ¢ ¢ a # # a # a a a a a ¢ a a a ø a a a a a ¢ a ¤ a <Ó
Comprehension Check a a a a ¢ a a a ø a a a a a µ ¢ ¤ ø a a a a a Z¬
Throughout history, in every part of the world,
civilizations have built cities. They have made laws
and created art. Some of these civilizations have
mysteriously disappeared. What happened to them?
How can we uncover their secrets?
Fortunately, the people who lived in many of these
lost cultures left clues behind. Tiny bits of writing have
been discovered. These fragments of writing are often
the keys that can unlock the mystery of a lost culture.
All languages are codes. They are made up of words,
letters, and/or pictures that stand for something else. In
the English language, the word DBIstands for something
that you wear on your head. The number Cstands for
a certain number of things. The letter L represents a
sound found in the word OBhor OBOy
Today hundreds of languages are spoken around
the world. To study them, we can speak to the people
who use these languages.
But some cultures are like locked boxes with
missing keys. Their languages cannot be read by
anyone. The lives of the people who used them remain
unknown to us.
As long as there are codes to crack, experts will
take language fragments apart, piece by piece, to try
to find answers. Who knows what mysteries they may
solve in the future . .
0 Egyptians used a picture alphabet that was hard to decipher.
The outline of a boot stood for the letter 8, but it also meant
foot. A square represented a mat, but it also was the sound
of P, for pedestal.
L!·1¯±J LJ±
Even when the language of a lost civilization is found,
we can't always read it. One example of this is the
Rongorongo glyphs from Easter Island. So far we have
not found the key to unlock what the glyphs say.
In 1ÛÕ¬ Eugene Eyraud visited a house on Easter
Island. He noticed a wooden tablet covered with
rows of small pictures. The pictures looked like stick
figures. Each figure was about the size of a fingernail.
These glyphs were part of a lost language called
Rongorongo script. Some glyphs reminded Eyraud of
birds, fish, and people. Others seemed to represent
tools, the moon, and stars. He also noticed that the
glyphs in every second row were upside down.
Over time Eyraud looked
at hundreds of these tablets.
He found them in many
locations around the island. He
discovered that the writing was
used everywhere. But Eyraud
could not explain the meaning
of the glyphs.
Glyphs were also found carved �
in rocks on Easter Island.
Easter Island has another mystery. Giant
carved statues dot the island. The statues were
probably carved between A.Q. 1400 and 1600.
The average statue is about 13 feet tall and
weighs 14 tons (28,000 pounds). Many of
the statues sit on ðhuS, which are stone
pedestals about four feet high. How did
people move the statues to other parts
of the island? Nobody knows the answer
to that question-yet.
Today only about 20 tablets remain. Most likely,
the others were used for firewood, oars, fishing tools,
and other items. For more than 130 years, people have
studied the tablets. We know that the glyphs were
probably carved into the wood with shell blades. And
we know that no other language contains glyphs like
the Rongorongo glyphs.
Many Rongorongo glyphs are repeated again and
again so experts continue to study the patterns for
clues. Some think the tiny pictures stand for words
that form thoughts and stories. Others claim that the
glyphs are only pictures and not writing at all.
In the late 1820s Charles Masson was exploring in
the Indus River Valley. He stumbled on the ruins of
a brick castle. Nearby he found some grassy, odd­
shaped mounds. He also found a round armband
carved with small pictures.
The grassy mounds were uncovered 100 years later.
Buried beneath them was a vast city. This came to be
known as the Indus Valley civilization.
Indut Rìvcr Vsllcy

W The Indus Valley civilization was
unearthed along the border of
India and Pakistan.
AwAttidrwt«| Dittovrry
The Indus Valley seals were discovered accidentally by
an English soldier named Charles Masson. Masson was
serving in India as a soldier with the East India Company.
One day Masson and another soldier left their post. They
wandered along the Indus River into territory that Britain
didn't control. Later, Masson spotted the ruins. He wrote
and illustrated a book about discovering them.
In the ruins of the ancient city, BfCDB0OÎO@ÎSÎS
found samples of a script, or written language. Like the
script found on Easter Island, this writing was made
up of glyphs. Many experts have tried to decipher the
language so that they can learn more about the ancient
people of the Indus Valley. Some think the answers
can be found by studying the stone seals that were
discovered in the ruins. These seals feature an animal
in the center and small glyphs at the top and bottom.
Experts are still studying these seals but they have yet
to find the key to unlock this language.
W These stamps were found | IlD Indus Valley. They are
about 4,000 years old.
L!²+¯Ã1 ¯`¹
Sometimes a lucky accident can provide the key
to an ancient civilization.
In 1799 a French soldier was working at a fort in
Egypt. He came upon a carved stone slab. The top
of the stone was carved with tiny pictures called
Egyptian hieroglyphs. Below that, a message was
carved in Coptic, a later Egyptian language. At the
bottom of the stone, a message was carved in Greek.
The stone became known as the Rosetta Stone.
Experts hoped it would help them unlock the
mystery of Egyptian hieroglyphics.
Experts struggled to solve the puzzle of the Rosetta
Stone for more than 20 years. Nobody could figure out
how to read the Egyptian hieroglyphs. Some worked
alone. Others enlisted help. Finally, in 1822, the stone was
deciphered by a Frenchman. His name was Jean Francois
Champollion (ZHAHN FRAHN-swah shahn-pohi-YOHN).
Champollion was 18 years old when he began to
study the stone. Like many scholars at the time, he
could read Greek. But he had also studied Coptic.
He realized that the bottom two messages were the
same. If the Egyptian hieroglyphs spelled out the
same message, he would unlock one of the world's
greatest mysteries.
Champollion found that some of the hieroglyphs
were pictures that stood for things or ideas. Others
were pictures that stood for sounds. Over time, he
created a 26-letter alphabet. By doing so, Champollion
unlocked the words and thoughts of the people who
had used Egyptian D¡0fO@ÎgÇD¡CS.
T�r Kryto Hirroç|yp�itt
All three languages on the Rosetta
Stone were used in Egypt at the time
the messages were written.
Deep in the jungles of Central America, experts
from all over the world are searching for clues about
the ancient Mayan civilization. They've already located
cities with stone palaces and ball courts. They've also
uncovered glyphs carved and painted on the walls of
ruins that have been buried for thousands of years.
What can these ruins teach us about the Mayan
people and why this great culture disappeared?
Many scholars believe that the answer lies in
decoding the Mayan language. But cracking the code
is a difficult task. Mayan glyphs represent both words
and syllables. Many have more than one meaning. The
same glyph might stand for a word, sound, or an idea.
Glyphs also take on different meanings when they're
combined with other glyphs.
f The Mayan civilization lasted from about 500 B.C. to Ñ.Í. 1200.
º MBry VO!Ç :O·: ·' O'1C
It has taken hundreds of years to crack the Mayan
code. Many have made guesses that were wrong. Their
spirits sagged. But today almost all of the glyphs have
been translated. Soon experts may learn exactly what
happened to this lost civilization. Did wars and invasions
lead to its fall? Or did the Mayan people fail to care for
their environment?
L1·1¯±J ¯1J±±
Níttínç Pí£c£t
One day in 1947 a shepherd was searching for a
goat that had wandered away in the desert near the
Dead Sea. He climbed into a cave to look around.
Inside were seven jars filled with ancient SCfOÎÎS.
Since then 800 goatskin or sheepskin scrolls have
been found in 11 caves in the area. The scrolls were
named the Dead Sea Scrolls because they were found
near the Dead Sea.
The Dead Sea Scrolls are not written in code, but
understanding them proved to be difficult anyway.
They had been in the caves for 2,000 years. Some of
the text was impossible to read, and whole lines of text
were missing. Only 12 of the scrolls were found intact.
The rest consists of 25,000 fragile, faded, creased
fragments of ÇBfCDD0DÎ.
Today we know that 200 of the scrolls contain
books of the Bible. Other scrolls include rules, hymns,
and psalms. Most of these religious documents are
written in Hebrew script. But some are written in Greek,
which was the language spoken in the area then.
Scholars have been studying the scrolls for over
50 years. Today with computers and digital cameras,
scientists can study photographs so there is no need
to touch the fragile scrolls themselves.
Here is a fragment of one

of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

How do you crack a code when there are no
clues at all? This is the problem scholars face when
they study the Rohonczi Codex. COOCXis another
word for book, usually an older book. The codex first
appeared in 1838. It was given to a science school
by a Hungarian noble, along with thousands of other
books. No one understands the language in this
448-page book. The book also contains 87 pictures
of figures and places, but no one can identify them.
W The Rohonczi Codex was named after the city of Rohoncz.
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W Many people think the Rohonczi Codex is written in an early
Hungarian or Latin language.
Scholars do know a few things. The alphabet in
the book has about 10 times more symbols than any
other alphabet we know about. However, some of
the symbols don't appear often. They may stand for
things. Other symbols may stand for letters. The paper
in the book was probably made in the 1540s. But the
book might have been written at an earlier time and
copied onto the paper.
Many experts have reservations about this book.
Could it be a series of made-up scribbles? Was it
written by someone who just loved playing with
language? If so, who was this person? Is the Rohonczi
Codex a DOBX or is it real? Is it the missing piece that
might solve an ancient puzzle? Perhaps some day we
will know the answer.

L!·1¯11 |L!1
In 1912, a man named Wilfrid Voynich made an
interesting discovery when he was sorting through
some very old books in a college library. He found a
235-page DBDUSCfÎÇI written in an unknown language
and filled with illustrations of strange plants. The book
became known as the Voynich Manuscript.
A letter tucked in the book revealed that it had
been bought by an emperor who died in 1612. This
letter and other clues led scholars to agree the book
was written before 1608. But exactly when and where
was it written? And who wrote it? Experts have spent
years trying to answer these questions.
Some people studied the parchment paper it was
written on. They wanted to find out if it was made
from calfskin or lambskin. This might tell them where
the manuscript was written.
Others have looked for clues in the ink used to
write the manuscript. The carbon in the ink could
show when it was written. The red, blue, green, yellow,
and brown inks used in the drawings might provide
more clues.
At one point, a plant expert studied the illustrations
of plants looking for answers. The book was found in
Europe. Yet one of the pictures seemed to show an
American sunflower. If it was a sunflower, then the
book must have been written after 1«Ü¯. That's when
Christopher Columbus took the first sunflower seeds
back to Europe. But was it really a sunflower-or a
flower that looked very much like one?
Û The first
section of
the Voynich
contains 130
pages of
of plants.

The biggest mystery is the Voynich script. No one
had ever seen a language like it. It doesn't resemble
the English or European alphabets. Some have
suggested that the book is written in two languages.
Had two different people written it? Could the book
have been written at a later date than it was thought?
Perhaps the author had used parchment and inks from
an earlier time in order to fool someone into paying a
great deal of money for it.
Many pondered the fact that there were very few
corrections in the
book. Had the author
or authors rewritten
the book until it was
perfect? Or had
someone copied the
Ý In the 1500s and 1600s, monks
often passed the time by making
up codes. Could the Voynich
Manuscript be a series of made-up,
mixed-up words written backwards?
A Irttrrwith 5o�r CIurs
The Voynich Manuscript was discovered in 1912 in Italy.
The letter found in the book says that the author of
the manuscript might be Roger Bacon. Bacon was
an Englishman who belonged to a
religious order. But he was kicked
out of the order because of
his "modern" ideas. Bacon
experimented with lenses,
which helped to develop the
glasses we wear today. He
also wrote about building
traveling machines hundreds
of years before cars,
submarines, and airplanes
were invented.
Some people doubt that the Voynich Manuscript
has any meaning at all. But after studying patterns
in the script, experts now believe that the book is
real. The symbols are written in patterns and follow
laws much like those in other languages. The search
for the key to understanding the Voynich Manuscript
continues today.

To unravel a language code, experts must try to
leave their own world behind. A picture that looks
like a wheel to us cannot be a wheel in a culture that
never had wheels. Instead, the picture may represent
a shield or a full moon. Two lines might represent a
corridor, the number ×, or a word pattern.
In this way experts learn all they can about a lost
civilization. They study art objects and ruins. They
explore the area and learn about the languages that
were spoken and written in nearby places.
Why do some people spend most of their lives trying
to decipher a language code? Why would someone
spend years studying a stone, a book, or the scribbles
on the wall of a cave? We can learn a lot about a
culture by studying its language.
HistoryoíLost Ltwqutqes
Rohonczi Codex may
have been written.
Jean Francois
Champollion deciphers
Rosetta Stone.
!Ì9O I 5
Rosetta Stone
is discovered.
Charles Masson discovers
first hint of an Indus
Valley civilization.
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U /: cð!í6¯ linear Õ was decoded by an
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So, experts continue to try to decipher languages.
They search for clues, make guesses, and try to put
the pieces together. Sometimes it takes years to find
the key to the puzzle. And some puzzles may never
be solved.
Eugene Eyraud writes
about Rongorongo
script on Easter Island.
First Dead Sea Scrolls are
found in a cave near the
Dead Sea.
The Voynich Manuscript
is discovered In
Rome, Italy.
All Mayan glyphs
are cataloged.
archaeologlSt (AHR-kee-OL-uh-jist) a person who studies the way
humans lived long ago (paQe 7)
clVllízatlon (siv-uh-/uh-ZAY-shuhn) a society that develops in one
place (paQe 2)
culture (KUL-chur) the arts, beliefs, and customs of one group of
people at a certain time (paQe 2)
lragment (FRAG-muhnt) a small piece that has broken off of
something (paQe 2)
glyph(GL!F) a symbol or figure (paQe 4)
hleroglyph (HIGH-ruh-glif) a character or picture used in a
hieroglyphic system of writing (paQe 8)
hleroglyphlcS (high-ur-uh-GL!F-iks) a system of writing that uses
pictures to represent meanings or sounds (paQe9)
hoaX (HOHKS) a trick (paQe l5)
manuScrlpt (MAN-yuh-skript) a book or document (paQe l6)
parchment (PAHRCH-muhnt) the skin of a sheep or goat (paQe l2)
Scrlpt (SKRIPT a writing system (paQe4)
Scroll (SKROHL ) a roll of parchment or other material with writing on it
(paQe l2)
SÎab (SLAB) a broad, flat piece of stone (paQe 8)
tablet (TAB-Iuht) a stone or wooden slab used for writing (paQe4)
Bacon, Roger, 79
Champollion, Jean Fran�ois, 8-9, 20
Columbus, Christopher, 77
Coptic language, 8-9
Dead Sea Scrolls, 72-73, 27
Easter Island, 4-5, 7 27
Egyptian alphabet, 3
hieroglyphics, Egyptian, 9
hieroglyphs, Egyptian, 8-9
Indus Valley seals, 6-7 20
Masson, Charles, 6-7
Mayan civilization, 70-77, 27
monks, 78
Rohonczi Codex, 74-75, 20
Rongorongo glyphs, 4-5, 27
Rosetta Stone, 8-9, 20
Voynich Manuscript, 76-79, 27

Comprehen8lon ChecK
Use an Author's Perspective
Chart to help you summarize the
book. Why does the author think
it's important to try to decipher
ancient languages?

T. Look at page 2 again. Why do you think the author
compares lost languages to a locked box without a key?
(Evaluate Author�s PerspectIveJ
Z. What language would you like to learn? Explain your
reasons. (Analyze/EvaluateJ
$. Tell whether you believe the Rongorongo glyphs or the
Voynich Manuscript will ever be decoded. Explain your
answer. (EvaluateJ

What will people thousands of years from now
know about the English language? Make a list of
the items you would place in a time capsule to
help them understand our language and culture.
Describe why you would include each item.
Learn more about Egyptian hieroglyphics or Mayan
glyphs. Then use the symbols from that language to
write one or more sentences. Share your sentences
with the class. How long does it take everyone to
decode them?