What just happened?

To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

More information about how we have ‘runified’ this site

 

Decipherment


The Fenton Vase

The Fenton Vase


Diameter: 17.200 cm

AOA 1930-1


During the Enlightenment, scholars studied the languages of many different ancient civilizations in order to understand how they developed and to make connections between them.

Some studied ancient scripts from Europe. In Britain and Ireland, for instance, the desire to understand the origins of language and writing led to early successes in deciphering. The result was a rich archive of information gathered from runes, Ogam stones and Anglo-Saxon inscriptions from which scholars began to construct their own early history.

But other scripts proved much harder to decipher. For instance, people wished to understand Maya and Aztec glyphs because they believed these Central American civilizations were descendants of the Phoenicians. They hoped that deciphering the inscriptions on their monuments would uncover these common roots. But the glyphs were not deciphered until the twentieth century.

On display: Enlightenment: Ancient scripts