With the collapse of the Roman authority in Western Europe, the literary development became largely confined to the Eastern Roman Empire and the Persian Empire. This included: It is from this Egyptian writing that an alphabet would first evolve, sometime from 1850 BC onwards. Circa 1800 BC. Scholars make a reasonable distinction … As you can see, the poster traces the evolution of our modern Latin alphabet back to what is known as Proto-Sinaitic. The revival of literary development in Western Europe led to many innovations in the Latin alphabet and the diversification of the alphabet to codify the phonologies of the various languages. The first pure alphabets (properly, "abjads", mapping single symbols to single phonemes, but not necessarily each phoneme to a symbol) emerged around 1800 BC in Ancient Egypt, as a representation of language developed by Semitic workers in Egypt, but by then alphabetic principles had a slight possibility of being inculcated into Egyptian hieroglyphs for upwards of a millennium. There are considered to be three writing criteria for all writing systems. It is likely to be of semi-independent origin, having roots in the Meroitic Sudanese ideogram system. These in turn led to the writing systems used throughout regions ranging from Western Asia to Africa and Europe. An Introduction to the History of History. The primary literary languages were Greek and Persian, though other languages such as Syriac and Coptic were important too. These were targeted at particular linguistic communities and functioned similarly to the writing we know today. Substrate, pg 6. a surface, as a writing surface. This ink writing came to be known in Greek as hieratic (‘priestly’ script), whilst the carved and painted letters we see on monuments are called hieroglyphs (‘sacred carvings’). what would happen if we tried this? But what really prompted me to write this post was this poster I saw on Jason Kottke’s site. In the Middle Ages, as Michael Clanchy states in his well-known book From Memory to Written Record (1993), literacy was a technical skill, like IT might be today – you need people to do it, but there’s no reason why a manager should have to set up his own computer network; he has better things to do. There are also several places such as the Indus River valley and Rapa Nui (Easter Island) where writing may have been invented but it remains undeciphered. Cretan hieroglyphs are found on artifacts of Crete (early-to-mid-2nd millennium BC, MM I to MM III, overlapping with Linear A from MM IIA at the earliest). Scribe, pg 7. in early cultures, such as Sumeria and Egypt, the profession of those individuals who could read and … Visible Language: Inventions of Writing in the Ancient Middle East and Beyond. The Arabic language also served to spread the Hindu–Arabic numeral system throughout Europe. But as I read once, in response to the claim that man is not the only tool-making animal: “Using a blade of grass to extract ants from an anthill is not a tool. The Proto-Elamite script is also dated to the same approximate period.. Two main areas of examination in this regard have been "dry strength of paper" and "wet web strength". 15-25. Here, the kings of the late Shang dynasty (1300–1050 BC) had founded their capital and carried out divination rituals using animal bones. though whether to writing on lead, or filling up the hollow of the letters with lead, is not certain. Children of the Code: A Brief History of Writing – Online Video, BBC on tortoise shells discovered in China, Fragments of pottery discovered in modern Pakistan, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=History_of_writing&oldid=990115055, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.  This reed, found chiefly in Lower Egypt, had various economic means for writing, the pith was taken out, and divided by a pointed instrument into the thin pieces of which it is composed; it was then flattened by pressure, and the strips glued together, other strips being placed at right angles to them, so that a roll of any length might be manufactured.  Scholars believed that all writing originated in ancient Sumer (in Mesopotamia) and spread over the world from there via a process of cultural diffusion. It is thought that the first true alphabetic writing was developed around 2000 BC for Semitic workers in the Sinai by giving mostly Egyptian hieratic glyphs Semitic values (see History of the alphabet and Proto-Sinaitic alphabet). A wooden tablet collected on Rapa Nui (Easter Island), inscribed with glyphs. The origins of writing appear during the start of the pottery-phase of the Neolithic, when clay tokens were used to record specific amounts of livestock or commodities. 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To date, nearly 150,000 examples of such bones have been found, containing over 4,500 different symbols, many of which can be identified as the ancestors of Chinese characters still in use today. The very first writings from ancient Sumer by any reasonable definition do not constitute literature. Discoveries of large-scale incised ceremonial scenes at the rock art site of El-Khawy in Egypt date to around 3250 BC. Finally, and to return to the theme of Marshall’s post, the Roman alphabet actually doesn’t fit English all that well. They show features similar to early hieroglyphic forms. This number of characters is similar to that found in pre-dynastic Egyptian hieroglyphs and early Sumerian script. As best we can tell it is an evolved feature of the human brain. It must have a purpose or some sort of meaning to it. These were common among the Aztecs and other Mexica communities of central Mexico. The line of human transmission guaranteed the authenticity of the information. ** This theory makes a great deal of intuitive sense, even if we haven’t yet located any language center. These 'oracle' bones (the shoulder blades of oxen and turtle plastrons) record questions that were posed to the royal ancestors about topics as diverse as crop rotation, warfare, childbirth and even toothache. Rather, they were a development based on earlier traditions of symbol systems that cannot be classified as proper writing, but have many of the characteristics of writing. In the latter case there is this peculiarity, that plaster (sic, lime or gypsum) was used along with stone, a combination of materials which is illustrated by comparison of the practice of the Egyptian engravers, who, having first carefully smoothed the stone, filled up the faulty places with gypsum or cement, in order to obtain a perfectly uniform surface on which to execute their engravings. Language is more than, e.g., a particular shriek that indicates the presence of a snake. Last edited on 22 November 2020, at 22:13, List of languages by first written accounts, "The Origins and Early Development of Writing in Egypt", Sex and Eroticism in Mesopotamian Literature, "Anyang writing and the origin of the Chinese writing system", "Writing May Be Oldest in Western Hemisphere", Cyclopedia of Biblical, theological, and ecclesiastical literature, "On the nature of joint strength in paper-A review of dry and wet strength resins used in paper manufacturing". Symbolic communication systems are distinguished from writing systems. An ancient Mesopotamian poem gives the first known story of the invention of writing: Because the messenger's mouth was heavy and he couldn't repeat (the message), the Lord of Kulaba patted some clay and put words on it, like a tablet. Since the 1990s, the discoveries of glyphs at Abydos, dated to between 3400 and 3200 BCE, may challenge the classical notion according to which the Mesopotamian symbol system predates the Egyptian one, although Egyptian writing does make a sudden appearance at that time, while on the contrary Mesopotamia has an evolutionary history of sign usage in tokens dating back to circa 8000 BCE. Just four Maya books survive from the pre-colonial period and fewer than 20 from the entire region. Snakes are considered tetrapods even though they don’t have any limbs – their ancestors did once upon a time, but in the meantime the animals evolved a different means of locomotion. There is no very definite statement as to the material which was in most common use for the purposes of writing at the start of the early writing systems.  Despite the importance of early Egypt-Mesopotamia relations, given the lack of direct evidence "no definitive determination has been made as to the origin of hieroglyphics in ancient Egypt".
13 November 2020