The electrical storm that recently ravaged the coast of Gol did more than damage the Engineering Quad on the T’Paal Campus of the Vulcan Science Academy and run the freighter Sadikh aground. When the dust settled, crews clearing coastal roadways of sand-drifts noticed what appeared to be the hull of a ship thrusting from the dunes. Authorities quickly verified that the shipwreck was not of the modern age, and the ruins were turned over to the Academy for study. Although the excavation began only a month ago, of particular interest in this find so far is the oldest surviving sample of the Dzhaleyl script in what archaeologists have termed Kitau-Krizhiv t’Varith, or the Varith Tablet in Federation Standard English (FSE).
The tablet, made from the red clay of the Na’Ri Valley, is estimated to be over 8,000 years old and appears to be a portion of the ship manifest or an early trade agreement. The script, in Traditional Golic Vulcan of the Dzhaleyl dialect, is read top to bottom, right to left: Na’kelek t’Varith, keh-leh dah subok mut…nau subok hirat, dah-leh steh kak mah’t[a]….s’kelek t’Sern. Na’kelek t’…reh chasulh zul-makh, sheh chasul[h]….This can be translated into FSE, “To the House of Varith, forty-two barrels [of] grain…nine barrels [of] hirat (a grape-like fruit), twenty-seven jars [of] mah’ta (an herb)…from the House of Sern. To the House of…three chests [of] obsidian, six chests….”
The VSA has concluded a thorough study of fingerprint patterns still evident on some artifacts of the excavation. “The fingerprints pressed into the clay of the tablet fragment are consistent with the genome of the House of Sern,” said Dr. T’Prea, Chair of the Archaeological Department. “From what we know of ancient Dzhaleyl sea-trade, each merchant household had their own scribe, who was usually a family member. It was a great honor to be promoted to the position, and a good deal of wealth was expended to ensure a chosen son or daughter’s skills in the written language — in a time when very few could read and fewer could write.”
Dr. T’Prea went on to explain that the script was originally scratched into wet clay with a stylus shaped from a reed, but as trade flourished and cargo holds swelled, stamps for commonly used words were used. “They needed a faster way to produce trade agreements and contracts,” said Dr. T’Prea. “Based on modern experiments with Dzhaleyl clay, documents can be produced 10.23 times faster with stamps and rolled cylinders than the hand can inscribe individual letters using a stylus. The Varith Tablet was produced with a stylus and is, therefore, of especially great interest.”
The tablet is also remarkable in that it is the largest fragment to be found to date. The scale shown in the accompanying photographs is in the Vulcan decimal system. Translated in to Federation equivalents, the tablet measures 12.4 cm in width and 25.1 cm in height. At its thickest, the tablet is 0.6 cm. Smaller clay shards were found in proximity to the tablet, but none bore any inscriptions. “Although there is no clear evidence,” said Dr. T’Prea, “these fragments may have formed the backside of a tamper-proof envelope in which the tablet was sealed. To ensure that no one altered the document before the clay had dried, it was encased in two slightly larger and thinner pieces of clay sealed along the edges, and the entire document was reproduced on the cover. If there were any discrepancies as to the verbiage of the contract, an arbitrator would carefully slice the seal, remove the original, and compare the two.”
As the excavation proceeds, there are likely to be other small windows into ancient Vulcan life.
NOTE: The Vulcan font depicted in these images was created by Briht’uhn. For more information about the Zun font, please visit korsaya.org.