Rongo Rongo: A Mysterious Script


Before Rosetta Stone was discovered in 1799 the intricate details about Egyptian hieroglyphs could not be deciphered. Similar was the fate with many ancient texts. But Rongo Rongo is an exception till date. It is a language that has been unearthed from the mysterious Easter Islands. This island is one of the most puzzling locations on Earth. This island is known largely for a series of Moai statues. But the first European visitors to this island faced another puzzle. In 1770 Spanish annexed Easter Island and there was a treaty document signed by captain Gonzalez de Ahedo. When the time came for the island’s delegates to sign on the document, the Spanish were bemused to see that the islanders signed in a confusing script which consisted of small pictures consisting of human, plants and animals.

 

Mysterious Rongo Rongo Script

It later turned out that other islanders of Easter Islands could not read this language. Thus it was assumed that the language was solely used by the elders and that bulk of the native population were illiterate. Unfortunately very soon the entire population of this island was wiped out due to the diseases that Europeans brought along with them. Most of the people able to read and write this mysterious language named Rongo Rongo died in the epidemics. In 1860 Easter Islands was visited by a Catholic priest who found strange writings on wooden furniture as well as other wooden objects. But he could not find any native with the ability to translate such writings. There were many huts in the island where such wooden tablets were found. The writings depicted animals unknown to the island. The natives had drawn these with sharp stones.

Rongo Rongo writings on wooden block

 

After some time a Bishop from Tahiti arrived at Easter Islands and to his delight he found a person who knew the Rongo Rongo and was willing to translate it. Everything was going fine, but the Bishop became suspicious when the islander claimed that single pictures bore multiple meanings. The end result of these translations did not make any sense. In about two weeks it was clear that the islander was faking. In 1886 a sailor again tried to decipher the text with the help of an elderly native. The native claimed he could read the language but refused to translate it. When drunk the man translated some parts of the wooden slab. But the sailor could not find any other person to verify the translation. He was also not satisfied over the accuracy of the translation.

 

Mystery filled Easter Islands

Over the years linguists have spend much time trying to decipher the language of Rongo Rongo but they have been unsuccessful so far. So the mystery of Rongo Rongo continues.  

 

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