In a rare discovery in Alabama, scientists have come across a series of inscriptions of the cave that are thought to have been written in the ancient Cherokee language.
The inscriptions, which probably date from 1828, were found deep in Fort Payne, Alabama's Mantiou Cave and describe sacred rituals such as the sport of stickball in amazingly rich details.
Scholars published their translations today in the Antiquity magazine, which they believe were left by the spiritual leader of a stickball team, often referred to as & # 39; the little brother of the war & # 39; with lacrosse.
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Scientists discovered a Cherokee syllable inscription deep in a cave in Alabama. Shown is one of the inscriptions, which translates to & # 39; leaders of the stickball game & # 39;
Amazingly, two of the inscriptions they discovered were signed by Richard Guess, one of Cherokee scholar Sequoyah & # 39; s sons.
Sequoyah was the brain behind the Cherokee-written language or script, which was developed in the early 19th century and adopted by the tribe in 1825.
Although Sequoyah designed the syllabium to resemble the English language, it was often used as a means for Cherokee Indians to secretly communicate while being invaded by whites.
The inscriptions & # 39; show evidence for secluded ceremonial activities in a time of crisis for the Cherokee & # 39 ;, the researchers said.
& # 39; Although the Cherokee were taken by force from Alabama, their words remain on the walls of the Grotto of Manitou & # 39 ;, she added.
Beau Duke Carroll and Julie Reed, two authors of the study, walk through Manitou Cave in Fort Payne, Alabama. On the left are the syllables of the Cherokee on the walls and ceiling of the cave
One of the inscriptions, which appears as: & # 39; Ꮶ Ꭱ Ꮶ 1828 Ꭻ Ꮻ Ꮒ Ꭷ Ꮈ Ꭴ Ꭷ Ꮒ 30 Ꭱ Ꭶ, & # 39; is supposed to translate to & # 39; the leaders of the stickball game on the 30th day in their month of April 1828. & # 39;
The inscriptions were found in Fort Payne, the Mantiou cave in Alabama
The word & # 39; their & # 39; refers to the Euro-Americans and their calendar.
Another inscription reads: & # 39; Ꮧ Ꮍ Ꮿ Ꮑ Ꮝ Ꭶ Ꮼ Ꮧ Ꭶ Ꮀ Ꮲ Ꭹ & # 39 ;, which translates to & # 39; we are the ones who have blood coming from their nose and mouth & # 39 ;.
According to the scientists, stickball was much more than just a lacrosse game.
& # 39; It is a ceremonial event that often lasts for days, with the emphasis on competition between two communities that together & # 39; embody the spirit and power of the people and their ancestors & # 39;, & # 39; the researchers said.
& # 39; Each team undergoes ritual preparation before the game, and access to purifying holy waters is necessary.
The inscriptions were found in Fort Payne, Alabama's Mantiou Cave and describe sacred rituals such as the sport of stickball in amazingly rich details. Graffiti is shown along with the syllable
Some inscriptions are written backwards on the ceiling of the cave, trying to communicate with spiritual beings. One said: & # 39; I am your grandson & # 39 ;, probably referring to the & # 39; Ancients & # 39;
& # 39; This is the event recorded on the walls of the cave of Manitou – the ball players are spiritually preparing for the game and cleansing themselves in the remote underground waters, & # 39; she added.
The inscriptions not only documented the Cherokee sport of stickball, but they also emphasized that caves & # 39; mentally powerful & # 39; places were for the tribe, as well as many other groups.
& # 39; These were sacred spaces instead of & # 39; art galleries & # 39 ;, noted the research. & # 39; This may be relevant to cave art around the world. & # 39;
Some inscriptions are written backwards on the ceiling of the cave, trying to communicate with spiritual beings.
Depicted is an inscription of Cherokee syllable on a wall in the Manitou cave. Two of the inscriptions were signed by Richard Guess, one of Cherokee scholar Sequoyah & # 39; s sons
The Cherokee scripting language was developed in the early 1800's by the scholar Sequoyah. The image is a syllable in Sequoyah & # 39; s handwriting, which he designed to resemble English
WHAT WAS THE MEANING OF THE CAVE MANITOU?
Researchers say that inscriptions discovered deep in an Alabama cave reveal that hollow locations such as Manitou by the Cherokee people as & # 39; spiritually powerful places & # 39; were seen.
In the caves of Manitou and others, the walls were decorated with inscriptions, which were considered & # 39; suitable in the context of ceremonial action & # 39 ;, the researchers say.
Similar cave drawings have been observed in the American southwest of thousands of years old.
One of the inscriptions was: & # 39; I am your grandson & # 39 ;, probably directed against the & # 39; Old Ones & # 39; or Cherokee ancestors, researchers said.
& # 39; While Old Ones may include deceased Cherokee ancestors, they may also include other supernatural beings that inhabited the world before the Cherokee came into existence, the researchers said.
The Cherokee language was created by Seqouya (photo) in the 19th century
Before the researchers discovered them, it was believed that they had gone unnoticed for nearly 200 years.
& # 39; People have probably been watching and passing this for years, but they just didn't know what they were looking at, & # 39 ;, Beau Duke Carroll, a Cherokee and lead author of the study, told the Washington Post.
Jan Simek, an anthropologist at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and co-author of the study, said the new inscriptions give a rare voice to the Cherokee in their own words.
& # 39; This gives a definitive view of the use of the script and it shows us – in their own words – what the Cherokees did back then, & # 39; Simek told the Post.
& # 39; For archaeologists, that is a remarkable outcome, because you usually interpret symbols or words. But here they tell us: "We practiced our old way – look." & # 39;