Puzzles

These are questions submitted by visitors to Omniglot. I post them here because I don't know the solutions. Please copy me in on your suggestions/solutions so that I know when puzzles have been solved (feedback[at]omniglot[dot]com), or you can add your comments below.

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Lead plate inscription

Michael S. Sanders sent in the image below. He believes it to be an archaic form of Samaritan. Can you identify and/or decipher it? If you can help, please contact Michael at: mike.sanders@ancientcultures.net

Lead plate inscription

According to TJ, the inscription is in Samaritan and the plate is made of copper. Steve N. is sure the script is the Aramaic/Proto-Hebrew alphabet.


Inscription from a standing stone

The inscription below comes from a standing stone in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. If you have any suggestions what script it is and/or what it means, please contact Robbie T. Pict at: robbie.pict@homecall.co.uk

Inscription from a standing stone

According to TJ, the writing looks like a combination of Hebrew and/or Greek, though more like Hebrew.

According to Steven, the symbols are a combination of cursive Hebrew and Anglo-Saxon/Norse runes. The location of the stone (Scotland and the clearly Hebrew cursive letters on the stone and the swastika symbol all support this). The Hebrew letters do not appear to represent the Hebrew language.


Writing on knife

The writing on this knife is in the Arabic script. Do you know what language it's in, what it says, or can you provide any other information about the origins of the knife? Please send your suggestions to Janet Creamer at: janet_creamer@hotmail.com

Knife with unknown writing on it

Here's a photo of the knife on which the inscription appears.

Knife with unknown writing on it

According to TJ, the inscription appears to be in Malay.

Aizuddin, Malaysia writes:
The shape of the knife maybe from Southeast Asia, but I dont think the writing on the knife is Malay. The Malay version of Arabic script is quite different, and even I can read it, I'm quite sure it is not a Malay words.

According to Toulouse Ng, the Arabic text is:

اِ(؟ِ)ـوـ/ـعـكَـ/گي نِ اَمَنِمِڠ گ/كَ كَـ/گنِ اِنَنِ اِڠدِـ/ـ(؟ِ)ـس

Transliteration: i?i(w/’)(ka/g)y ni amaniming g/ka (ka/g)ni inani ingdi(?)s


Unknown writing on paper from diary

A friend of Peter Coan found several pages written in an unknown language stuck in an old (1850s) diary she recently bought. If you can identify the writing system and/or the language, please contact Peter at: salon310@yahoo.com

Unknown writing on paper from diary

Suggestions

According to TJ, the writing is in a cursive form of Devanagari.

According to Christopher Miller this script is very clearly a version of Kaithi, though in a rather unusual angular hand. It has the split ‹l› shape (a bit like a C followed closely by a 7) typical of Gujarati and some Kaithi varieties, but not yet merged into a theta shape as in other Kaithi varieties. The ‹h› is not an 'S' shape with a disconnected downstroke on the left, as in Gujarati, but a instead is fully connected, typical for Kaithi. It has the typical Kaithi ‹w› with an underdot (here a circle) to distinguish it from the otherwise identical ‹b› letter, whereas in Gujarati script the two letters have quite distinct shapes. And the most diagnostic giveaway feature is the shape of the ‹r›, which in Kaithi looks like '7' rather than the Gujarati '2' shape.


Turkish tray

Turkish tray

If you can decipher the writing below, which appears on a tray bought in Turkey about 40 years ago, please contact Bill Steltzer at Steltzjr@aol.com

This looks like an old version of the Cyrillic alphabet to me, and the language might possibly be some form of Church Slavonic.

Here's a possible transliteration:

Simezht
Nstoüo garatz
ateg mepapa
mteg meetüo eitho

According to Prof. Dr. Sebastian Kempgen of the University of Bamberg, the inscription might be Greek, in which case it could read:

CIMELH (L and H are written as a ligature I) / SIMELI
HS TOU GARAT / IS TOU GARAT
ATEGMEPAPA / ATEGMELAPA MTEGMEE TOU E 1788

The last letter in line two is not clear. Also, in the third line, one character could be a capital P or a capital L.

Pavel Petrov is sure that the language is Slavic and has provided the following possible version of the text:

симеёт-и-с-оут-и а-рать-а-те-име-папа-м те имеюте 1789

Possible translation

Some (men) plough, but those (who are) called popes own. 1789



Mysterious writing from California

Mysterious writing from California

This text was found by someone in California. If you have any suggestions about what writing system or language this is, please write to: orio_3@yahoo.com

Suggestions (from Rudi Cheb): the script is very likely some kind of Chinese writing or maybe Nüshu.



Manuscript written in an unknown script

The photos below were sent in by Mark Muehlhaeusler who came across this manuscript while cataloguing Oriental manuscripts at Utah University Library. Nothing is known of the provenance of the manuscript, but since it is housed with a collection that was acquired in Egypt, it is likely that the item hails from there (note the scarab and the 'cartouches').

If you can identify the script, please contact Mark at: mark.muehlhaeusler@utah.edu

Manuscript with unknown script

Close-ups of the text

Close-up photo of the text on the manuscript

Close-up photo of the text on the manuscript

The writing looks like some variety of Amharic or Ge'ez, according to Evans Knight.

TJ suggests that the writing is either in the Egyptian Demotic script or the Meroitic Demotic script. The cartouches and some of the symbols indicate this.


Metal fish

Does anybody have and ideas about the symbols on this metal fish? If you do, please contact Aaron Wobrock at: grovepointmooon@hotmail.com

Metal fish

Stephan Glöckner thinks the symbols might be in the Vai script.


Unidentified characters

Can anybody help Patrick Bushell identify these characters that appear on date a bronze crotal bell? If you can help, please write to patrick.bushell@btinternet.com

Character on a crotal bell

According to Toulouse Ng, "The characters are read from right to left. The first character is like "叁 sān", which is the complex form of writing the number "3" in Chinese. For the next character, I've never seen it before. It somehow looks like a combination of characters "皿 mǐn" (vessel) and "兴 xìng" (happy). The word doesn't even exist in my dictionary.


Postcard

Can anybody decipher the symbols on the left of this postcard? If you can, please contact Pat at: pm2jr@prodigy.net

Postcard with unknown symbols on it

According to Dolly Hayde, most, if not all, the symbols on the postcard appear to hobo signs.


Shorthand

Ken Dillon sent in these examples of an early form of shorthand dating from about 1850. If you can decipher them, please write to Ken at: ken.dillon@dillonsbooksearch.com

Shorthand

Shorthand


Shorthand?

Pierre Lombardini, who works in a bookshop, found the following note in one of his books. He thinks it is some kind of shorthand. Can anybody identify and/or decipher it? If you can, please write to: pierre@harringtonbooks.co.uk.

Shorthand?


Armenian plaque

The writing on this plaque is in the Armenian alphabet. If you can read it, please contact Norman Silver at NormanSilver@homechoice.co.uk.

Armenian plaque

According to Armen Mahseredjian, the stone is a prayer for blessings because of the use of the words God and bless in the text, and the cross at the top in Armenian is called a Khach kar.


Bracelet

Can anyone decipher the writing on this bracelet? If you can, please contact Angela Brown at angela@amb.demon.co.uk.

Bracelet

Evans Knight suggests that the inscription doesn't actually say anything at all. It seems that it was just arbitrarily designed to simulate the Arabic script.

Aizuddin believes that the writing might be لا إله إلا الله (Lailahailallah) which means "There is no God but Allah".

Jacob McLanth thinks that the writing might be a copy of an Avestan (Old Persian) inscription, with some possible Devanagari and Tibetan elements. Alternatively it might be a version of the Manichaean alphabet.


Sealscript inscription

Can anyone identify the characters in this inscription? They appear to be in some form of Chinese Seal Script. Please send your suggestions to Scott Anderson at scott@backlandoutdoors.com.

Sealscript inscription

According to Carl Mashthay, the characters on the right are 兄正文肉 (xiōng zhēng wén ròu) = 'older brother upright/regulate writing flesh'. The ones on the left are possibly 千 (父/又) (夕/月) 子 (qiān, fù/yòu, xì/yuè, zì) = 'thousand (father/also) (evening/moon/month) child' - the two in the middle are unclear.

Attempted translations:
'An (upright) older brother can regulate whatever is written and whatever is alive.'
'Thousands of fathers can spend their evenings with their children.'


Mystery writing on envelope and letter

Can anybody decipher this writing which appears on an envelope and letter sent in by Cynthia (ddcchughes@att.net)?

Mystery writing on an envelope
Mystery writing on a letter


Ohio inscription

This inscriptions comes from an outcrop of rocks near the Great Circle Earthworks built by the Hopewell Indians in Ohio. The writing system looks like Cherokee. Can anybody decipher it? If you can, please contact Brandon Long at longster23@yahoo.com

Ohio inscription

Evans Knight is sure that the inscription isn't Cherokee.


Burmese sword

Can anybody decipher the writing on this sword? The alphabet is Burmese. Please send your solutions to: Charles Sirico at: charles.sirico@ngc.com

Burmese sword


Sanskrit (?) inscription

Can anybody decipher this inscription? If you can, please write to Mitchell Chen at mmitchellchen@gmail.com

Sanskrit inscription

According to Christopher Miller this script might be Kaithi.


Glass coin

Can anybody decipher the inscription on this glass coin? Please send your suggestions to The email address for your suggestions

Glass coin

The script might be an Old Italic alphabet - Oscan, Faliscan or South Picene maybe.

Jason Massia suggests that the symbols might by zodiac signs.


Inscription on bone

The inscription on this bone sent in by Jeff Carroll (carrollj@tca.net) looks like Hebrew to me. Can anybody work out what it says?

Bone inscription

According to Steven, the script and language are definitly Hebrew. The first word says eh-kef which means pressure or urgency.

One possible reading of the inscription is "אכפ צא בדמך" (ehkef tza b'damcha) which could be translated as "Urgent; go out in your blood", though this is not certain due to the lack of clarity of some of the letters. A Hebrew speaker would not need or use vowel points except in maintaining the pronunciation of the biblical text and this leads him to believe that this is a fake.


Pillar with writing on it

Writing on pillar

Can anyone decipher the writing below? It looks like Japanese to me, but I can't make out what it says. If you have any ideas, please write to Royce Lee at: royce.lee@usask.ca


Mysterious writing

Mysterious writing This image was sent in by Pamela (pam@mpcnet.com.br), who has provided the following background information about it:

This symbol belongs to the Aquarian Order. It is called the "Triangle of Light" or the "Seal of the Agharta". The founder and Master Serge Raynaud de la Ferrière, must have received it from an Aghartian messenger, when he was initiated both in India and Tibet, around 1950, but he died in 1962 and left nothing written about it

In one of his books he mentions Saint Germain, who mentions a triangular altar: Athanor. Saint Germain studied the Zohar, the Torah and all the saintly scriptures. He was also influenced by the Zoroastrian tradition, where "Atar" is the symbolic aspect of Fire, just like in the Hindu treatise Atharva-Veda. In this last book, the Seal of God has a sun on it and is called "Sûryachandra-masâbhya".

Possible solution, suggested by Nikhil Sinha

The writing inside the triangle might be भानु (bhanu) which means sun, as does 'sûrya' in the name 'Sûryachandra-masâbhya'. Nikhil is unsure which script the writing is in.

According to TJ, the writing looks more like "Chuurya" (sun) in Tamil.


Mysterious inscription

This photo was sent in by Brigid Roche (brigidr@eircom.net). Brigid believes that her father found the stone during his travels in Persia. Can anyone decipher the inscription? If you can please write to Brigid.

Mysterious inscription on a stone, possibly from Persia

The same image flipped over.
Mysterious inscription on a stone, possibly from Persia

Suggestions (from Tom Howard): the character look like they are in a form of Seal Script. The one on the left looks like zi3 (child), one of the other character might be kong3, which combined with the zi gives Confucius.

Suggestions (from Rudi Cheb): The middle character looks like the Chinese "chu1" (to exist, to happen, to occur etc.) the other characters could be some other script such as Nestorian, Ancient Uighur, Soghdian etc. It was not uncommon for Nestorian Christians in Turkestan to use several scripts in their holy scriptures.

According to Michael DePaula the first character most resembles "shan1" which means "mountain", however the little markings between the three prongs lead him to believe that they are shorthand for other characters that would have appeared there had there been enough space to write small enough. If correct, this would open up the possibility for the characters "bin1" (the name of a state during the Zhou Dynasty [1500BC - 500BC]), and "you1" (which means deep/secluded). Finally, if the character exceeds the top edge of the block, it would appear to be similar to "han2" which means a letter/envelope.

The middle character appears to be chu1, (which means to go/come out of, or exceed). However, he sees what appears to be smaller markings up top as well, making him believe that this is the same, but older version of chu1.

The final character is a mystery since he's never seen an old form of "cheng2", which means "to bear, to hold/carry" or "to undertake".

Some possible interpretations:

  • 函出承 (hán, chū, chéng) - a receptacle for outgoing letters (a stone marking above a mail pickup spot?)
  • 豳出承 (bīn, chū, chéng) - The coming Bin-state
  • 山出承 (shān, chū, chéng) - Succeeded in coming off/out of the moutains.

Sword inscription

Can anybody identify the symbols on this sword? If you can, please write to: The email address for your questions

sword inscription

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