Mysterious Jamestown Tablet an American Rosetta Stone?

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Slate may show early colonist efforts to communicate with Indians.

With the help of enhanced imagery and an expert in Elizabethan script, archaeologists are beginning to unravel the meaning of mysterious text and images etched into a rare 400-year-old slate tablet discovered this past summer at Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in America.

Both sides of the scratched and worn 5-by-8 inch (13-by-20 centimeter) tablet are covered with words, symbols, numbers, and drawings of people, plants, and birds that its owner or other users likely encountered in the New World.

There are differences in the style of handwriting, which may mean that more than one person used the tablet as a sketch pad and possibly for writing rough drafts of documents, Kelso noted.

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Jeremy Dupertuis Bangs - 1/15/2010

At last! Proof that the settlers of Jamestown arrived on ye good ship "Hyperbole."