10 Mysterious Ancient Languages

Human-beings were constantly developing new languages, scripts and writing systems to communicate, record their culture and for development. Several ancient languages such as the Chinese, Korean, Sanskrit, Tamil, Greek, Egyptian, Arabic, Persian and Hebrew have flourished constantly for many centuries. There are few other languages which are extinct today, while there are few languages which have mysteriously disappeared, extremely hard to decode or unclassifiable today. So, which are those ancient extinct languages whose details are little known, complex and difficult to understand?

A list of ten amazing yet mysterious ancient extinct languages from around the world:

10. Iberian Language, France and Spain

Iberian Language

A mysterious language from the Iberian peninsula known as the Iberian language have existed around 7th and 1st century BC. According to Greek and Roman sources that lived in the eastern and southeastern regions, this language was spoken by the people there. By the 1st to 2nd centuries AD, the language got itself slowly replaced by Latin. The Iberian is unclassifiable, but it has been deciphered to various extents. The language itself remains largely unknown. Few links to other languages such as the Basque language have been put forth. None of those claims and links have demonstrated to the satisfaction of modern scholarship.

9. Epi-Olmec Language

Ancient Olmec Civilization

The Isthmian script was probably the writing system of the mysterious Epi-Olmec culture. The Mesoamerican script dating to probably around 500 BCE to 500 CE is also known as La Mojarra script and the Epi-Olmec script. The script of the language is similar to the Maya script. In 1993, two epigraphers John Justeson and Terrence Kaufman published a partial decipherment of the Isthmian text. This system of decipherment of the Isthmian script was made void by Stephen D. Houston and Michael D. Coe who unsuccessfully tried to apply the decipherment. Due to this dispute, the language remains unproven, unknown and mysterious. Further discoveries of remnant of this language might help the researchers to crack it.

8. Elamite Language, Iran

Elamite Language

Elamite language is an ancient language of the Elamites from Iran. The language was once spoken from 2800 to 550 BC. No language links could be found regarding the Elamite language and is known as a “language isolate”.  The language without any relatives makes this language difficult to understand and interpret. The previous two scripts from the area – Proto Elamite and Linear Elamite have not been decoded to understandable sense. Proto Elamite is largely thought to be logographic whereas Linear Elamite was existence for a short period of time.

7. Old Rapa Nui Language, Easter Island

Rongorongo Script

Rapa Nui is a native language spoken on the island of Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island. It is an Eastern Polynesian language which is in the verge of becoming extinct. Rongorongo is a script found on the Easter Island in 19th century. It is believed that Rongorongo, an undecipherable ancient script could be the old Rapa Nui language. The mysterious script with numerous attempts of deciphering it was unsuccessful. The language’s origin, its language family, the culture behind the language and the meaning of the system of glyphs still remain unknown to the world. The language could date back to around 12th century.

6. Language of the Minoans, Crete

Language of the Minoans

The language of the Minoans belongs to the mysterious Minoan civilization. This language was written in Cretan hieroglyphs and later in the Linear A syllabary. The Cretan hieroglyphs are undecipherable and Linear A is partially deciphered. Because of this nothing much is known about the Minoans language. It remains unclassified and this is one of the reasons of the mystery behind the Minoan civilization as well. The language could date back to as old as 2600 to 1100 BC. This language could be from one of the earliest known civilizations from Europe.

Eteocretan language is another language which might or might not be derived from the Minoans language. This language came 1000 years after the language of the Minoans. This language is also a mystery. The language has alphabets similar to the Greeks but is clearly not Greek. The language is not understood and hence unclassified. Since the difficulties in translation, it is not certain that Eteocretan and the Minoans language are related.

5. Old Zhangzhung Lanugage, Central Asia

Zhang Zhung

Old Zhangzhung language is another mystery language belonging to the Sino-Tibetan language family. Zhang-Zhung language was once spoken in what is now known as the western Tibet. Few documents from Dunhuang contain an unknown language which has been named as the Old Zhangzhung. But, this identification is controversial. There is no much documentation about this enigmatic language.

4. Nam Language, Central Asia

Dunhuang Manuscript

Nam language belongs to Sino-Tibetan language family which remains one of the biggest mysteries as well. Researchers were never able to decipher the language which is preserved in Tibetan transcriptions in a number of Dunhuang manuscript fragments. The language probably belongs to the 5th to early 11th centuries. Nothing is certain as its letters and contents are a mystery. The language is preserved at the British Library and the Bibliotheque Nationale de France.

3. North Picene Language, Italy

North Picene Language

North Picene is one of the most mysterious languages to have come from Europe. The ancient language was most likely spoken in parts of central-eastern Italy. The language is from the 1st millennium BCE. Though, the language could be easily transliterated but nothing could be translated. Nothing much is known about the language like the language family or whether it is related to any other known language. Strangely, some of its letters look similar to Latin letters. It is absolutely not related to the South Picene language except the name.

2. Harappan Language, India/Pakistan

The Indus Valley Civilization

Harappan language is also known as Mohenjo-Daro or the Indus language. The civilization that spoke this language is so old that nothing is known about it. Neither the language’s origin nor family is found to date. The language is from the Bronze Age Harappan civilization or the Indus Valley Civilization. The Harappan language possibly dates back to as old as 3500 and 1900 BCE. The mysterious language from one of the most mysterious ancient civilization definitely needs a time-machine to find out the meanings of its scripts. There are several hypotheses that exist to explain the nature of this unknown language. Several instances of the scripts, coins and inscriptions relating to the Harappan language have been found by archaeologists but it remains undecipherable to this date. These scripts are known by the name Indus script which might be a writing system or the recordings of a language.

1. Sidetic Language, Anatolia

Sidetic Language

Sidetic language is a mysterious ancient Anatolian language because nothing much has been documented about it. It is believed that the language was once spoken in the historic site of Side on the coast of Pamphylia in Anatolia. The existence of the language was only known after the discovery of coins and inscriptions found at the site which dates back to 2nd – 5th century BCE. A prominent Greek historian, Arrian mentions about the existence of a peculiar and mysterious language in the city of Side. The language remains undecipherable.


Vinod Suthersan is an young tech enthusiast, Blogger addict, Internet craze and thriving to learn new things on the world of Internet.