A preliminary decipherment of the Glozel inscriptions

Donal B. Buchanan BA

A short history of the Glozel site and the author's involvement with it is given. It is concluded that the language of the inscriptions is Semitic and the script has strong affinities with both Libyan Punic and Iberic. The site seems to have been some kind of bezaar or trading center (either seasonal or permanent) where Semitic merchants dealt with a predominantly Celtic agrarian population (believed illiterate, but probably regarding any kind of writing as "magical") perhaps sometime in the third or fourth century before the Common Era. The bazaar dealt in livestock, devices to ensure sexual potency, various salves and ointments, curative charms and amulets, as well as primitive tools suitable for customers engaged in animal husbandry. Slaves or the services of slaves or bondsmen were also offered for sale. A number of inscriptions illustrative of these facts are deciphered followed by a discussion of the symbols, a vocabulary, and a bibliography. The author makes it clear that he does not regard himself as a Semitic linguist. Although grammatical errors will certainly be present, it is still believed that the decipherments are, in general, accurate. Additional polishing or constructive comments by Semitic specialists will be welcomed.

An earlier version of this article originally appeared in the Epigraphic Society Occasional Papers (ESOP), Vol.9, Nr.226, June 1981. The article has been revised and updated.