FORT PAYNE, Ala. — Archaeologists and Cherokee scholars have finally interpreted Cherokee tribal inscriptions written in an Alabama cave hundreds of years ago.
News outlets report the inscriptions inside Manitou Cave near Fort Payne are the first evidence of the tribe’s syllabary, which uses symbols to create words. The study of the inscriptions was published in the April issue of Antiquity, an international archaeological journal.
Experts say one inscription describes a game similar to lacrosse. They say it details an 1828 match and indicates players entered the cave before the games and during intermission for specific ceremonies. Another inscription that was “written backwards, as if addressing readers inside the rock itself” was not translated.
The tribe’s syllabary was created in the 1800s by Cherokee scholar Sequoyah, who eventually developed the tribe’s official written language.
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