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A 3800-year-old alphabet has been found intact on six global continents. Translations and grammar suggest a global human culture thrived in antiquity.

For pictures and text:

Announcement of Discovery

August 17, 2000
Evidence of a 3800 year old alphabet and language has been found on six global continents. Contents and grammar suggest a global human culture thrived in antiquity.


The proponents, Gary Vey and John McGovern, document similar appearing and very old rock art in remote North America (Gary Vey of ViewZone), Southeast Australia (John McGovern), the Negev Desert (Dr. James Harris, BYU) and the Yemen site (University of Calgary team at Marib, Bilqis).

The authors assert that they have recognized an early alphabet and have obtained successful translations using a Southern Semitic and old Thamudic dialect. This alphabet is identical to ancient writing found in several other distant locations around the globe and spans possibly 8000 years of use. The occurrence in Colorado has been dated to 2800 BCE. In the Negev this alphabet has been positively dated to 3500 BCE (before the current era). In southern Australia, the alphabet is estimated to be at least 8000 years old. The Yemeni archaeology site has just celebrated its 3000th Anniversary with a ceremony held November 2000.

The language has been given the name "old Negev" after the location of the alphabet's initial discovery and presumed origins in the Sinai, lead by Harvard University. In Australia, this alphabet has been termed the "Panaramitee Tradition", named after the Panaranitee region of South Australia (The site of the worlds oldest patina dating of petroglyphs. The oldest 43,100 BPE and youngest, at same site, 1,500 BPE.).

In North America it has often been misrepresented as Native American Indian sign language. The language and grammar are now understood to be, at the very least, proto-Canaanite, but possibly much more anticedent. While the letters appears to have roots in common with early Egyptian and Hebrew, the petroglyphs successfully translate to English using an old Hebrew dialect in all of the known locations to date.

What's more, this occurs at periods of time pre-dating our current understanding of Semitic culture. There is a danger in representing the language as "old Negev" and "old Hebrew." Evidence of the antiquity of this script in both America and Australia suggest that this root language may pre-date that of old-Hebrew.

The author and his associates suggest using an unbiased name, such as "the First Tongue," to avoid any presumptive association with a specific people, nation or era. The content of the translations, although not complete, suggest that a common culture and vital religious belief system thrived in antiquity. But more scrutiny of this language system, its content and occurrence around the globe is indicated before any conclusions are possible.

How old is old?

In Australia there is evidence that this language was carved into stone 8000 years ago. In America there are 2800 year old petroglyphs carved atop earlier, worn and weathered petroglyphs in the same language–repeating the latter inscriptions.

In Yemen, this alphabet was used in the way we use Latin and Roman Numerals. The Temple at Bilqis is dedicated in such a stone script. Dead languages do not change through time. The Bilqis structure was built to be read, as it so happens, 3000 years after it was covered and completely forgotten.

Photographic evidence is presented and on-going translations are posted from the Expedition in May 2000. A discussion of the evidence is welcomed.


The Alphabet contains basic, distinct geometric shapes, 22 in all (with some variations). Each shape or symbol has a corresponding phonetic (sound) meaning. Earlier attempts at translation failed because the alphabet was thought to have been proto-Arabic. However, translations have successfully been made through an old Hebrew dialect.

The symbols were originally found pecked in stone. The stone surface is typically flat and has a dark patina of oxidized minerals which is breached with a sharp object, removing small chunks of the patina.

At the time of their creation, this method would have revealed the contrasted, bright underlying layer of fresh stone. This made petroglyphs an excellent and permanent medium for writing. The pecked out symbols are often found in collections or arrangements that can be mistaken for pictures or maps. These "ligatures" can be broken down into discrete letters and phrases. Curiously, many of the ligatures are made such that the word meaning is conveyed both phonetically (for those that can read) and symbolically. A typical word or phrase will have two or three symbols in length. The vowels, with rare exception, are never written. The direction of flow and the grammar are explained in detail in subsequent papers linked from this page.

A much clearer version of this alphabet can be seen in the Yemen material at the bottom of this page. We see that this alphabet was once beautifully made into a font, complete with serif and sans-serif styles!


The Expedition 1998 was undertaken as a way of becoming familiar with petroglyphs. The four-corners area of Monument Valley were documented, as well as Anasazi habitats never before filmed. Special attention was given to the nature and style of the petroglyphs and pictograms (painted on rock) of that area.

An attempt is made to translate some of the symbols using the methods of LaVan Martineau, with limited success.

The Four-Corners, Anasazi Habitat (1998)

The Expedition visited the Hopi Reservation and was allowed to document ancient petroglyphs, never before photographed, and to explore the mythology and tradition of the oldest North American habitat.

The Hopi Reservation (1998)

All of the visits to known American Indian sites were in preparation for assessing the southeast Colorado petroglyphs, which were meticulously documented in the feature, "The Picketwire People," shown for the first time on ViewZone Magazine in 1998. At the time, no similar alphabet was known.

The Picketwire People (1998)



We revisited the Colorado location in May of 2000 with higher resolution imaging and recording apparatus and documented many new areas that were found to be excellent examples of both ancient Hebrew language and culture. These images are currently being shown on Viewzone Magazine.

The Colorado Documentation (2000)

Other Artifacts recently translated.


Most recently, Viewzone received photographs from a team in Australia who depicted similar petroglyphs of a much older date (i.e. in excess of 1800 B.C.) These were examined and translations of the material proved that it originated with the same root culture and ascribed to the same rules of grammar and symbols.

Translation of these Australian panels, a style known locally as Panaramitee Tradition, has been completed but the complete results have been withheld at the request of the Australian team. We provide some examples here. We hope to summarize all of the translations in a later work.

Viewzone is currently planning an expedition to the site and will shortly have more information to share.

The Australian Petroglyphs (2000) #1 and The Australian Petroglyphs (2000) #2


The Negev Desert has been explored by Dr. James Harris, of BYU, who identified some of the grammar and structure of the Middle-East petroglyphs and has described this alphabet as "old Negev." His translations are reviewed in detail.

Update from Yemen: Translations.

On October 15, John McGovern, busy documenting the First Tongue in Australia, located pictures of inscriptions from the alleged Queen Sheba's archaeological site in Yemen. The language on the wall, although stylized into a font, appears to be First Tongue.

It is our belief that this ancient alphabet was used much as Latin inscriptions and Roman Numeral dates are used on contemporary dedication plaques. A dead language never changes and is therefore constant through time.

Old temple uncovers Queen of Sheba

The Mahram Bilqis contains priceless documents, artifacts from the time of the biblical queen.

September 13, 2000

TORONTO (Reuters)  - A Canadian archaeologist said on Tuesday that his team was slowly unravelling the secrets of a 3,000-year-old temple that may have belonged to the Queen of Sheba. Half-buried under the sands of the southern Arabian desert in northern Yemen, the Mahram Bilqis or Temple of the Moon God contains priceless documents and artifacts from the time of the biblical queen.

The Yemeni government does not have control over the various tribal groups that live in the country and who believe that they own the land. The temple was a sacred site for pilgrims in Arabia from around 1200 BC to to 550 AD, the time that fits with history's record of the Queen of Sheba and her visit to King Solomon of Israel.

"To have such historical, religious and cultural connection to one site is tremendous. Not often in archaeology do we have that." Professor Bill Glanzman the project's director told Reuters.

The discovery and excavation of the temple began in 1951 by the late American archaeologist Wendell Phillips. But it was halted abruptly a year later because of political unrest. Work was restarted in 1998 by the American Foundation for the Study of Man, a nonprofit organisation that spearheads such projects.

Glanzman said the temple could become an "eighth wonder of the world," attracting people from around the world. But another expert disagrees. "This is the most optimistic of statements at the moment, given the economic and political situation and the problem of raising money for such things," said Edward Keall, senior curator of Middle Eastern Archaeology at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.

"I do not expect to see it in my lifetime," he said. "As of the moment, the Yemeni government does not have control over the various tribal groups that live in the country and who believe that they own the land," Keall said.

But Glanzman tries to sell the importance of the excavation, saying it is as important a discovery as the ruins of Pompeii, the pyramids of Giza or the Acropolis. "The sanctuary is packed with artifacts, pottery, artwork and inscriptions, opening a new door to the ancient civilisations of southern Arabia," he said. Glanzman said his team could be finished with the excavation within 15 years.

Contact: Gary Vey
Viewzone Magazine
65 Columbus Avenue, Suite 2
Northampton, MA 01060

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