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Scripted Stone: Ancient block may bear Americas' oldest writing

Road builders in southern Mexico discovered a script-covered block of stone among the rubble in a gravel quarry in 1999. A research team has now announced that the marks on the slab represent the oldest writing yet discovered in the Americas.

The quarry where the script was found abuts an archaeological site, near Veracruz, in what was the heartland of the ancient Olmec civilization. The imagery used in the writing indicates that the artifact, known as the Cascajal block, displays an early form of Olmec writing dating to nearly 3,000 years ago, says Stephen D. Houston of Brown University in Providence, R.I.

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