Still so much to learn about language, culture and history.

Just recently a scientific publication came out where artificial intelligence (AI) was used  to prove that the famous French Molière’s plays are indeed from Molière (ref here). And not from Corneille, another famous French playwriter from the 17th. Although the conclusions of the work might cause a smile (while on earth did people think that !?!), the interesting aspect of the  study is the approach.

But AI has limits and archaeologists, historians, and citizens, are still often the keys to solve mysteries. One such mystery relates to Cherokee language. Indeed, the complexity and diversity of Native American’s languages is not a wonder any more: it  was used as a code against Japan in WWII; an unbreakable code.

Yet, in a paper published this year, it is the written syllabi of the Cherokee community that was tackled: Sequoyah, a renown Cherokee chief, created a written syllabary in the 19th. This written version of Cherokee was quickly  adopted amongst the community.

In the paper, the authors investigate the meaning of inscriptions in a Cave in Alabama, the “Manitou Cave”. Those writings reveal a lot about the Cherokee culture, such as the popular  stickball game, a  version of lacrosse, or the belied that  Old Ancestors were flying and very powerful. Interestingly, the writings to the Ancestors, on the ceiling of the cave, are also directed to them. This means that they were written very high, in a mirror fashion, so that the Elderly could read them.

Nowadays, the walls of the cave are covered with graffiti from tourists and teenagers, but this communication to the past remains.

NB: the pictures Hopis pattern design and the transformation of a teenager with the white (forced) school training and assimilation.