Lost Language:
Cucuteni-Trypillian Culture
and Its Extinct Language


You probably have not heard about the lost language of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture. Unless you live in Ukraine or can read Ukrainian/Russian publications devoted to the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture, you almost surely have not heard anything of this long-forgotten language.

Five-seven thousand years ago (in the 5th-3rd centuries B.C.), my native country of Ukraine was home to the ancient civilization known as the Cucuteni-Trypillia. This civilization also spread to the territories of modern Moldova and Romania.

Press the Play button in the player controls to view the video.

The Cucuteni-Trypillians practiced agriculture, smelted metals, built wooden houses two or three stories high, lived in very large settlements for 50-60 years and then burned their houses to ashes to move to the other place.

The Cucuteni-Trypillian culture is known for its special painted ceramics and distinctive mythology centered on the Great Mother Goddess (a symbol of motherhood and crop-producing power), a bull (a symbol of strength, fertility, the sky and celestial phenomena), and a snake (a symbol of the eternity and eternal movement). A video above shows masterpieces of Cucuteni-Trypillian ceramics and tells more about this culture.

The Cucuteni-Trypillians created their own form of writing. It was not like the alphabetic writing systems used in the modern world. The writing was pictographic. It looked like ornaments and was painted and carved on ceramics. Thus, the Cucuteni-Trypillians handed down their perception of the world. These ancient pictograms speak to us in the lost language of symbols and signs.

Attempts have been made to decipher the pictograms and positive results have been achieved. Take the quiz below to see how well YOU understand the lost language of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture.

A recent research (Ю. Л. Мосенкіс, Проблема реконструкції мови трипільської культури) suggests that this language is of the Pre-Indo-European origin. It influenced greatly the Proto-Slavic language (existed between the 2nd century B.C. and the 1st century A.D.) from which Slavic languages later emerged.

Ukrainian is the only of all Slavic languages that is spread now on the territory of the ancient Cucuteni-Trypillian culture. Therefore, it is assumed that the Ukrainian language inherited more features of the ancient language than other Slavic languages. The modern Ukrainian language preserves the Cucuteni-Trypillian linguistic heritage in three areas:

- vocabulary (dozens of words, e.g. віл [an ox], голуб [a pigeon], іскра [a spark], меч [a sword], печать [a stamp])

- phonetics (euphony due to the even interchange of vowels and consonants)

- proper names (first of all, names of rivers, e.g. Лета [Leta], Хорол [Khorol], Ворскла [Vorskla]).

Cucuteni-Trypillian Pictogram Quiz

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_____________________________________________________________________ Website owner: Irina Lychak, self-employed freelance linguist, Russian translator, Ukrainian translator, Kiev (Kyiv), Ukraine


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