VERBA VOLANT SCRIPTA MANENT
If there is no language, there is no population!
It is the year 3150 AD. Scientists are conducting an archaeological excavation to research and find the traces of ancient civilizations. The civilization’s remains (!), found after long-lasting efforts, are described in the final excavation reports as: “The remains of five cell phones and two tablet computers were found in a house with a major fire destruction level. Unfortunately, they are out of condition due to metal oxidation that occurred over a period of 1000 years. We think that the device in question might be a digital library that contained thousands of books, approximately a thousand years ago. However the 1000 year span of time has made this digital library unusable. Therefore, we are unable to access the writing and culture of the people living in this period.”
Although these lines seem like science fiction, they may be plausible. If a meteorite hit the world and humanity is lost, what will future people asking the question “is there an ancient civilization here?” find? Perhaps a huge nothing! In contrast, today, in the year 2013, we can read Hittite texts written on clay tablets or ancient texts written on marble blocks thousands of years ago and we can learn almost everything about these periods. The universal culture defining the post-industrial modern world is information technology. A culture dependant on electricity (energy)… Television, radio, computers, cell phones and all sorts of technological devices represent the culture of the world we live in today, but they are not permanent. As with everything that is defined as culture today in the developing world, newspapers, books, libraries, information and documentation are becoming digital and the world we are living in is becoming indefinable for the future millennia and may eventually perhaps be considered as a lost age.
Last year, we prepared a project called “Letters for the Next Millennium”. The project was designed to create permanence on the universal culture that we use in the modern world. When human history is examined chronologically, we see that history is divided into different periods: Hittite, Phrygian, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman… Three factors are considered in the classification of historical periods: the means of production of the period (such as stone, metal), artistic culture (such as sculpture or architecture) and economic / political structure (such as coinage). However, written sources are necessary in order to fully understand these three themes. Culture and art might be found in a stone artifact or a wall painting. However major destructions demolish everything in nature over time. Metal might be corroded, textiles and wood might decay… For this reason, the inorganic production materials of a population, that survive without decaying, are the best means to understand a civilization. In the simplest terms, writing engraved on stone is permanent.
The issue you hold in your hand, “Lost Languages of Anatolia”, describes languages that are dead rather than lost. Luckily, the majority of these dead languages are deciphered. One might as well say that if there is no language, there is no population. The Kaskians, Scythians, Thracians, Cimmerians and many more, lived in Anatolia for a long time. We learn about the history of these populations, of which we only know the names, from the written documentations of other civilizations, since there is no written information about them. Anatolia is neglecting these civilizations, which did not leave anything and they disappear in time.
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