The Full Wiki

History of writing: Wikis

Advertisements
  
  
  
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...


More interesting facts on History of writing

Include this on your site/blog:

Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Kielitynkäkuva.png
Writing systems
History
Grapheme
List of writing systems
Types
Featural alphabet
Alphabet
Abjad
Abugida
Syllabary
Logography
Related topics
Pictogram
Ideogram

The history of writing follows the art of expressing words by letters or other marks.[1] In the history of how systems of representation of language through graphic means have evolved in different human civilizations, more complete writing systems were preceded by proto-writing, systems of ideographic and/or early mnemonic symbol. Language expresses thought, preserves thought, and also suggests or creates thought. It has been considered obvious that, so long as language is unwritten, it can accomplish these ends only in a very imperfect measure. Hence it may well be supposed that, at a very early stage of man's history, attempts were made to present in some way to the eye the thought which spoken language conveyed to the ear, and thus give it visible form and permanence.[1] However, this understanding does not necessarily go unquestioned. True writing, or phonetic writing, records were developed independently in four different civilizations in the world, namely Sumer, Egypt, China, and Mesoamerica.[citation needed]

Contents

Writing systems

Writing systems are distinguished from other possible symbolic communication systems in that one must usually understand something of the associated spoken language to comprehend the text. By contrast, other possible symbolic systems such as information signs, painting, maps, and mathematics often do not require prior knowledge of a spoken language. Every human community possesses language, a feature regarded by many as an innate and defining condition of mankind (see Origin of language). However the development of writing systems, and the process by which they have supplanted traditional oral systems of communication has been sporadic, uneven and slow. Once established, writing systems on the whole change more slowly than their spoken counterparts, and often preserve features and expressions which are no longer current in the spoken language. The great benefit of writing systems is their ability to maintain a persistent record of information expressed in a language, which can be retrieved independently of the initial act of formulation.

Recorded history

Human history and prehistory
before Homo (Pliocene)
Three-age system prehistory
>> Lower Paleolithic: Homo, Homo erectus,
>> Middle Paleolithic: early Homo sapiens
>> Upper Paleolithic: behavioral modernity
>> Neolithic: civilization
>> Near East | IndiaEuropeChinaKorea
>> Bronze Age collapseAncient Near EastIndiaEuropeChinaJapanKoreaNigeria
History
see also: Modernity, Futurology
Future

The kinds of writing which have been in use in different ages and in different parts of the world may be classified in two great divisions, based on how their users attempted to represent ideas[1]:

  • Directly and immediately, as with pictures or picture-like symbols
  • indirectly, via words, the way that spoken language does

Scholars make reasonable definition between prehistory and history with writing.[2] Scholars have disagreed concerning when prehistory becomes history and when proto-writing became "true writing"; the definition is largely subjective.[3] Writing, in its most general terms, is just a drawn device to indicate a message and is composed of glyphs.[4]

The various methods — the ideographic and the phonographic or phonetic — has its attendant advantages and disadvantages; but the advantages of the latter method greatly preponderate. The principal recommendation of the former method, in which the depicted idea is caught up immediately by the mind, is that it addresses itself to a much wider circle than the latter, being intelligible by all classes and in all countries; whereas the latter, in which the sound is depicted, not the idea, is of course intelligible only to those who are acquainted with the language to which the depicted word belongs. On the other hand, the very serious drawbacks attendant upon the direct method are:[1]

  1. that it is capable of giving distinct expression only to a very limited range of ideas, viz. the ideas of observable objects and qualities. Attempts to depict things that cannot be seen, or properties that do not exist on their own (e.g., trying to create a pictograph for "happy"), can become arbitrary and obscure; and
  2. even when something can be represented pictographically, doing so can be cumbersome and impractical for frequent use.

The emergence of writing in a given area is usually followed by several centuries of fragmentary inscriptions. With the presence of coherent texts (such that is from the various writing systems and the system's associated literature), historians mark the "historicity" of that culture.[2] The sacred writing of the Egyptians may be regarded as forming a stage of transition between the ideographic and the phonetic sorts of writing described.[1] Regarding the ancient Mexican writing and the ancient Chinese writing, see the articles of Mesoamerican writing systems and written Chinese respectively. Till the 20th century, the received opinion was that the ancient Egyptian was an exclusively ideographic writing, and to this conclusion the testimonies of those ancient writers who have given any account of it seemed to point. But the labors of various scholars,[5] during the end of the 19th-century, threw light on those ancient characters; and, though very possibly a picture writing originally, the hieroglyphic, in the form in which it appears on the most ancient monuments, and which it retains unchanged down to the early centuries CE, bears a composite character, being in part ideographic, in part phonetic. Accordingly, the characters are used in three different ways:[1]

  1. Pictorial use, in which the character is designed to convey to the mind the idea of the object it represents, and nothing more. This pictorial representation sometimes stands instead of a phonetic name for the object, but the most common use of it is to make the phonetic group of characters more intelligible by being subjoined to them. Thus, to the names of individuals the figure of a man is subjoined.[6]
  2. Hieroglyphical writing is the symbolical, in which the object delineated is not meant to convey to the mind the idea of itself, but of something associated with it and suggested by it.
  3. Phonetic writing, is really by far the most extensive. The greater part of the characters are as truly letters as if the language were English or Greek; syllable characters are the exception, not the rule.

In the ancient Egyptian inscription of any length it is found these three modes of writing in use together, but with a great predominance of phonetic. For more, see Egyptian hieroglyphs.

Advertisements

Developmental stages

A conventional "proto-writing to true writing" system follows a general series of developmental stages:[7]

  • Picture writing system: glyphs represent directly objects and ideas or objective and ideational situations. In connection with this the following substages may be distinguished:
    1. The mnemonic: glyphs primarily a reminder;
    2. The pictographic (pictography): glyphs represent directly an object or an objective situation such as (A) chronological, (B) notices, (C) communications, (D) totems, titles, and names, (E) religious, (F) customs, (G) historical, and (H) biographical;
    3. The ideographic (ideography): glyphs represent directly an idea or an ideational situation.
  • Transitional system: glyphs refer not only to the object or idea which it represents but to its name as well.
  • Phonetic system: glyphs refer to sounds or spoken symbols irrespective of their meanings. This resolves itself into the following substages:
    1. The verbal: glyphs represents a whole word;
    2. The syllabic: glyphs represent a syllable;
    3. The alphabetic: glyphs represent an elementary sound.

The best known picture 'writing system of ideographic and/or early mnemonic symbols are:

True writing, or phonetic writing, records were developed independently in four different civilizations in the world. Writing systems developed from neolithic writing in the Early Bronze Age (4th millennium BC).[9] The invention of the phonetic system is roughly contemporary with the beginning of the Bronze Age in the late Neolithic of the late 4th millennium BC. The Sumerian archaic cuneiform script and the Egyptian hieroglyphs are generally considered the earliest writing systems, both emerging out of their ancestral proto-literate symbol systems from 3400–3200 BC with earliest coherent texts from about 2600 BC.

Literature and writing

Literature and writing, though obviously connected, are not synonymous. The very first writings from ancient Sumer by any reasonable definition do not constitute literature — the same is true of some of the early Egyptian hieroglyphics or the thousands of logs from ancient Chinese regimes. The history of literature begins with the history of writing and the notion of "literature" has different meanings depending on who is using it. Scholars have disagreed concerning when written record-keeping became more like "literature" than anything else and is largely subjective. It could be applied broadly to mean any symbolic record, encompassing everything from images and sculptures to letters. The oldest literary texts that have come down to us date to a full millennium after the invention of writing, to the late 3rd millennium BC. The earliest literary authors known by name are Ptahhotep and Enheduanna, dating to ca. the 24th and 23rd centuries BC, respectively. In the early literate societies, as much as 600 years passed from the first inscriptions to the first coherent textual sources (ca. 3200 to 2600 BC).

Locations and timeframes

Early examples

Proto-writing

The history of human communication dates back to the earliest era of humanity. Symbols were developed about 30,000 years ago, and writing about 7,000. The early writing systems of the late 4th millennium BC are not considered a sudden invention. Rather, they were based on ancient traditions of symbol systems that cannot be classified as writing proper, but have many characteristics strikingly similar to writing. These systems may be described as proto-writing. They used ideographic and/or early mnemonic symbols to convey information yet were probably devoid of direct linguistic content. These systems emerged in the early Neolithic period, as early as the 7th millennium BC.

Europe and Near East

The Vinča signs show an evolution of simple symbols beginning in the 7th millennium, gradually increasing in complexity throughout the 6th millennium and culminating in the Tărtăria tablets of ca. 5300 BC[8] with their rows of symbols carefully aligned, evoking the impression of a "text". The "Slavic runes" mentioned by a few medieval authors may also have been a system of proto-writing. The Quipu of the Incas (sometimes called "talking knots") may have been of a similar nature. A historical example is the system of pictographs invented by Uyaquk before the developed of the Yugtun syllabary.

The Dispilio Tablet of the late 6th millennium is similar. The hieroglyphic scripts of the Ancient Near East (Egyptian, Sumerian proto-Cuneiform and Cretan) seamlessly emerge from such symbol systems, so that it is difficult to say at what point precisely writing emerges from proto-writing. Adding to this difficulty is the fact that very little is known about the symbols' meanings.

India and Asia

The 4th to 3rd millennium BC Indus script may similarly constitute proto-writing, possibly already influenced by the emergence of writing in Mesopotamia.

In 2003, tortoise shells were discovered in China, which had Jiahu Script carved into them. These shells were determined as dating back to the 6th millennium BC, via radiocarbon dating. The shells were found buried with human remains, in 24 Neolithic graves unearthed at Jiahu, Henan province, northern China. According to some archaeologists, the writing on the shells had similarities to the 2nd millennium BC Oracle bone script.[10] Others,[11] however, have dismissed this claim as insufficiently substantiated, claiming that simple geometric designs such as those found on the Jiahu Shells, cannot be linked to early writing.

Bronze Age writing

Writing emerged in a variety of different cultures in the Bronze age. In the hieroglyphic, it is found that the point of meeting between the two great classes of written characters, the ideographic and phonetic, and, as it seems, there has been some light thrown on their mutual relation, and the manner in which the one arose, or, at least, may have arisen, out of the other. It has been affirmed, indeed, that the two kinds of writing are so entirely distinct that it is impossible to entertain the idea of a historical relationship between them. But the fact is, that in the hieroglyphic that such a relationship is already established. No nation which had made any considerable advance towards civilization remained satisfied with a pictorial or symbolic writing, more particularly if it be disposed to cultivate to any extent intercourse with other nations. To represent by means of such a method of writing foreign words and names is a matter of the utmost difficulty; and it is not improbable that the origin of the phonetic writing may be traced to the intercourse of nations speaking different languages. Thus compelled to employ ideographic characters phonetically in writing foreign words.[1]

From this, there is but a step to the discovery of an alphabet, viz. the employment of the same sign to represent not the combination of sounds forming the word, but the initial sound.[12] It is true such correspondence cannot be traced through the whole of the phonetic alphabet. But when considering how very imperfect is the knowledge which even the most distinguished scholars possess of the ancient language, it is fully warranted in putting aside this negative evidence, and receiving the hypothesis just mentioned (such as that of Champollion with the ancient Egyptian language), as furnishing a very probable explanation of the origin of what may be called the alphabet.[1]

The Ge'ez writing system of Ethiopia is considered Semitic. It is likely to be of semi-independent origin, having roots in the Meroitic Sudanese ideogram system.[13] The Chinese script likely developed independently of the Middle Eastern scripts, around 1600 BC. The pre-Columbian Mesoamerican writing systems (including among others Olmec and Maya scripts) are also generally believed to have had independent origins. It is thought that the first true alphabetic writing appeared around 2000 BC, as a representation of language developed for Semitic slaves in Egypt by Egyptians (see History of the alphabet). Most other alphabets in the world today either descended from this one innovation, many via the Phoenician alphabet, or were directly inspired by its design. In the case of Italy, about 500 years passed from the early Old Italic alphabet to Plautus (750 to 250 BC), and in the case of the Germanic peoples, the corresponding time span is again similar, from the first Elder Futhark inscriptions to early texts like the Abrogans (ca. 200 to 750 CE).

Cuneiform script

Middle Babylonian legal tablet from Alalah in its envelope

The original Sumerian writing system derives from a system of clay tokens used to represent commodities. By the end of the 4th millennium BC, this had evolved into a method of keeping accounts, using a round-shaped stylus impressed into soft clay at different angles for recording numbers. This was gradually augmented with pictographic writing using a sharp stylus to indicate what was being counted. Round-stylus and sharp-stylus writing was gradually replaced about 2700-2500 BC by writing using a wedge-shaped stylus (hence the term cuneiform), at first only for logograms, but developed to include phonetic elements by the 29th century BC. About 2600 BC cuneiform began to represent syllables of the Sumerian language. Finally, cuneiform writing became a general purpose writing system for logograms, syllables, and numbers. From the 26th century BC, this script was adapted to the Akkadian language, and from there to others such as Hurrian, and Hittite. Scripts similar in appearance to this writing system include those for Ugaritic and Old Persian.

Egyptian hieroglyphs

Writing was very important in maintaining the Egyptian empire, and literacy was concentrated among an educated elite of scribes. Only people from certain backgrounds were allowed to train to become scribes, in the service of temple, pharisaic, and military authorities. The hieroglyph system was always difficult to learn, but in later centuries may have purposely made even more so, as this preserved the scribes' position.[citation needed]

Various scholars believe that Egyptian hieroglyphs "came into existence a little after Sumerian script, and ... probably [were]... invented under the influence of the latter ...",[14] although it is pointed out and held that "the evidence for such direct influence remains flimsy” and that “a very credible argument can also be made for the independent development of writing in Egypt..."[15] See further Egyptian hieroglyphs.

Elamite scripts

The undeciphered Proto-Elamite script emerges from as early as 3200 BC and evolves into Linear Elamite by the later 3rd millennium, which is then replaced by Elamite Cuneiform adopted from Akkadian.

Indus scripts

Sequence of ten Indus signs discovered near the northern gate of the Indus site Dholavira

The Middle Bronze Age Indus script which dates back to the early Harrapan phase of around 3000 BC in Pakistan, has not yet been deciphered.[16] It is unclear whether it should be considered an example of proto-writing (a system of symbols or similar), or if it is actual writing of the logographic-syllabic type of the other Bronze Age writing systems. Mortimer Wheeler recognises the style of writing as boustrophedon, where "this stability suggests a precarious maturity".

Anatolian hieroglyphs

Anatolian hieroglyphs are an indigenous hieroglyphic script native to western Anatolia first appears on Luwian royal seals, from ca. the 20th century BC, used to record the Hieroglyphic Luwian language.

Cretan and Greek scripts

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). Linear B, the writing system of the Mycenaean Greeks,[17] has been deciphered while Linear A has yet to be deciphered. The sequence and the geographical spread of the three overlapping, but distinct writing systems can be summarized as follows:[17]

Writing system Geographical area Time span[A 1]
Cretan Hieroglyphic Crete ca. 1625s−1500 BC
Linear A Aegean islands (Kea, Kythera, Melos, Thera), and Greek mainland (Laconia) ca. 1700s−1450 BC
Linear B Crete (Knossos), and mainland (Pylos, Mycenae, Thebes, Tiryns) ca. 1375s−1200 BC

Early Semitic alphabets

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. These early abjads remained of marginal importance for several centuries, and it is only towards the end of the Bronze Age that the Proto-Sinaitic script splits into the Proto-Canaanite alphabet (ca. 1400 BC) Byblos syllabary and the South Arabian alphabet (ca. 1200 BC). The Proto-Canaanite was probably somehow influenced by the undeciphered Byblos syllabary and in turn inspired the Ugaritic alphabet (ca. 1300 BC).

Chinese writing

In China, historians have found out a lot about the early Chinese dynasties from the written documents left behind. From the Shang Dynasty most of this writing has survived on bones or bronze implements (bronze script). Markings on turtle shells, or jiaguwen, are attested from the late Shang (1200–1050 BC).[18][18][19][20] Historians have found that what the writing was documenting and how it was used, had an effect on the type of medium chosen.

Mesoamerica

A stone slab with 3,000-year-old writing was discovered in the Mexican state of Veracruz, and is an example of the oldest script in the Western Hemisphere preceding the oldest Zapotec writing dated to about 500 BC.[21][22][23]

Of several pre-Columbian scripts in Mesoamerica, the one that appears to have been best developed, and fully deciphered, is the Maya script. The earliest inscriptions which are identifiably Maya date to the 3rd century BC, and writing was in continuous use until shortly after the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores in the 16th century AD. Maya writing used logograms complemented by a set of syllabic glyphs, somewhat similar in function to modern Japanese writing.

Iron Age writing

The Phoenician alphabet is simply the Proto-Canaanite alphabet as it was continued into the Iron Age (conventionally taken from a cut-off date of 1050 BC). This alphabet gave rise to the Aramaic and Greek, as well as, likely via Greek transmission, to various Anatolian and Old Italic (including the Latin) alphabets in the 8th century BC. The Greek alphabet for the first time introduces vowel signs.[24] The Brahmic family of India originated independently. The Greek and Latin alphabets in the early centuries of the Common Era gave rise to several European scripts such as the Runes and the Gothic and Cyrillic alphabets while the Aramaic alphabet evolved into the Hebrew, Syriac and Arabic abjads and the South Arabian alphabet gave rise to the Ge'ez abugida.

Writing in Antiquity

In history of the Greek alphabet, the Greeks borrowed the Phoenician alphabet and adapted it to their own language.[25] The letters of the Greek alphabet are the same as those of the Phoenician alphabet, and both alphabets are arranged in the same order.[25] Several varieties of the Greek alphabet developed. One, known as Western Greek or Chalcidian, was west of Athens and in southern Italy. The other variation, known as Eastern Greek, was used in present-day Turkey, and the Athenians, and eventually the rest of the world that spoke Greek adopted this variation. After first writing right to left, the Greeks eventually chose to write from left to right, unlike the Phoenicians who wrote from right to left. Greek is in turn the source for all the modern scripts of Europe.

A tribe known as the Latins, who became known as the Romans, also lived in the Italian peninsula like the Western Greeks. From the Etruscans, a tribe living in the first millennium BCE in central Italy, and the Western Greeks, the Latins adopted writing in about the fifth century. The Anglo-Saxons began using Roman letters to write Old English as they converted to Christianity, following Augustine of Canterbury's mission to Britain in the sixth century.

Middle Ages writing

With the end of the Western Roman Empire and urban centers in decline, literacy decreased in the West. Education became the preserve of monasteries and cathedrals. A "Renaissance" of classical education would appear in Carolingian Empire in the 8th century. In the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium), learning (in the sense of formal education involving literature) was maintained at a higher level than in the West. Further to the east, Islam conquered many of the Eastern Patriarchates, and it outstripped Christian lands in science, philosophy, and other intellectual endeavors in a "golden age".

Modern writing

The nature of writing has been constantly evolving, particularly due to the development of new technologies over the centuries. The pen, the printing press, the computer and the mobile phone are all technological developments which have altered what is written, and the medium through which the written word is produced. Particularly with the advent of digital technologies, namely the computer and the mobile phone, characters can be formed by the press of a button, rather than making the physical motion with the hand.

The nature of the written word had evolved over time to make way for an informal, colloquial written style, where an everyday conversation can occur through writing rather than speaking. Written communication can also be delivered with minimal time delay (e-mail, SMS), and in some cases, with an imperceptible time delay (instant messaging). Writing creates the possibility to break spatial boundaries and travel through time, since a word normally spoken could only exist in the time and space it is spoken in. It creates a certain immortality, that could not be experienced without writing. Socially, writing is seen as an authoritative means of communication, from legal documentation, law and the media all produced through the medium. The growth of multimedia literacy can be seen as the first steps toward a postliterate society.

Materials of writing

There is no very definite statement as to the material which was in most common use for the purposes of writing at start of the early writing systems.[1] In all ages it has been customary to engrave on stone or metal, or other durable material, with the view of securing the permanency of the record; and accordingly, in the very commencement of the national history of Israel, it is read of the two tables of the law written in stone, and of a subsequent writing of the law on stone. 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.[1] Metals, such as stamped coins, are mentioned as a material of writing; they include lead,[26] brass, and gold. To the engraving of gems there is reference also, such as with seals or signets.[1]

The common materials of writing were the tablet and the roll, the former probably having a Chaldean origin, the latter an Egyptian. The tablets of the Chaldeans are among the most remarkable of their remains There are small pieces of clay, somewhat rudely shaped into a form resembling a pillow, and thickly inscribed with cuneiform characters.[27] Similar use has been seen in hollow cylinders, or prisms of six or eight sides, formed of fine terra cotta, sometimes glazed, on which the characters were traced with a small stylus, in some specimens so minutely as to be capable of decipherment only with the aid of a magnifying-glass.[1]

In Egypt the principal writing material was quite of a different sort. Wooden tablets are indeed found pictured on the monuments; but the material which was in common use, even from very ancient times, was the papyrus. 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 fattened 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. Writing seems to have become more widespread with the invention of papyrus in Egypt. That this material was in use in Egypt from a very early period is evidenced by still existing papyrus of the earliest Theban dynasties. As the papyrus, being in great demand, and exported to all parts of the world, became very costly, other materials were often used instead of it, among which is mentioned leather, a few leather mills of an early period having been found in the tombs.[1] Parchment, using sheepskins left after the wool was removed for cloth, was sometimes cheaper than papyrus, which had to be imported outside Egypt. With the invention of wood-pulp paper, the cost of writing material began a steady decline.

See also

Main
Phonetics, Palaeography, logograms, logographic, Vinča signs, Asemic writing
General
Alphabet, Palaeography, Inscriptions, Book, Manuscript, Shorthand, Latin alphabet, writing system, ogham, Indus script, Mixtec, uncials, hanja, Zapotec, kanji, Aurignacian, Chinese characters, Ugarit, katakana, Acheulean, Ethnoarchaeology, Hoabinhian, Gravettian, Oldowan, Uruk, Etruscan, Cretan hieroglyphs, Hadza, Nabataean, Luwian, Olmec, Busra
Other
Oral literature, History of developmental dyslexia
Systems

Footnotes

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m McClintock, J., & Strong, J. (1885). Cyclopedia of Biblical, theological, and ecclesiastical literature: Supplement. New York: Harper. Pages 990 - 997.
  2. ^ a b Shotwell, James Thomson. An Introduction to the History of History. Records of civilization, sources and studies. New York: Columbia University Press, 1922.
  3. ^ Smail, Daniel Lord. On Deep History and the Brain. An Ahmanson foundation book in the humanities. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008.
  4. ^ Bricker, Victoria Reifler, and Patricia A. Andrews. Epigraphy. Supplement to the Handbook of Middle American Indians, v. 5. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992.
  5. ^ such as Young, Champollion, Wilkinson, Lepsius, and others.
  6. ^ Such characters Champollion calls "determinatives".
  7. ^ Smith (1922).
  8. ^ a b Haarmann, Harald: "Geschichte der Schrift", C.H. Beck, 2002, ISBN 3406479987, p. 20
  9. ^ Except for the Mesoamerican writing systems.
  10. ^ China Daily, 12 June 2003, Archaeologists Rewrite History, http://www.china.org.cn/english/2003/Jun/66806.htm
  11. ^ See review of both opinions in: Stephen D. Houston, The First Writing: Script Invention as History and Process, Cambridge University Press, 2004, pages 245-246.
  12. ^ That this step was actually taken by the Egyptians we appear to have sufficient evidence. Thus, an eagle stands for A, and its Coptic name is ahom; a leaf of an aquatic plant, Coptic achi, stands for the same letter; a lion for L, Coptic labo; an owl for M, Coptic moulad, etc.
  13. ^ "Meroitic Writing System". Library.cornell.edu. 2004-04-04. http://www.library.cornell.edu/africana/Writing_Systems/Meroitic.html. Retrieved 2010-01-31. 
  14. ^ Geoffrey Sampson, Writing Systems: a Linguistic Introduction, Stanford University Press, 1990, p. 78.
  15. ^ Simson Najovits, Egypt, Trunk of the Tree: A Modern Survey of an Ancient Land, Algora Publishing, 2004, pp. 55-56.
  16. ^ Whitehouse, David (1999) 'Earliest writing' found BBC
  17. ^ a b Olivier 1986, pp. 377f.
  18. ^ a b William G. Boltz, Early Chinese Writing, World Archaeology, Vol. 17, No. 3, Early Writing Systems. (Feb., 1986), pp. 420–436 (436).
  19. ^ David N. Keightley, "Art, Ancestors, and the Origins of Writing in China", Representations, No. 56, Special Issue: The New Erudition. (Autumn, 1996), pp.68–95 (68).
  20. ^ John DeFrancis: Visible Speech. The Diverse Oneness of Writing Systems: Chinese
  21. ^ "Writing May Be Oldest in Western Hemisphere.". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/15/science/15writing.html. Retrieved 2008-03-30. "A stone slab bearing 3,000-year-old writing previously unknown to scholars has been found in the Mexican state of Veracruz, and archaeologists say it is an example of the oldest script ever discovered in the Western Hemisphere." 
  22. ^ "'Oldest' New World writing found". BBC. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/5347080.stm. Retrieved 2008-03-30. "Ancient civilisations in Mexico developed a writing system as early as 900 BC, new evidence suggests." 
  23. ^ "Oldest Writing in the New World". Science. http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/313/5793/1610. Retrieved 2008-03-30. "A block with a hitherto unknown system of writing has been found in the Olmec heartland of Veracruz, Mexico. Stylistic and other dating of the block places it in the early first millennium before the common era, the oldest writing in the New World, with features that firmly assign this pivotal development to the Olmec civilization of Mesoamerica." 
  24. ^ Millard 1986, p. 396
  25. ^ a b McCarter, P. Kyle. "The Early Diffusion of the Alphabet", The Biblical Archaeologist 37, No. 3 (Sep., 1974): 54-68. page 62.
  26. ^ though whether to writing on lead, or filling up the hollow of the letters with lead, is not certain.
  27. ^ These documents have been in general enveloped, after they were baked, in a cover of moist clay, upon which their contents have been again inscribed, so as to present externally a duplicate of the writing within; and the tablet in its cover has then been baked afresh. The same material was largely used by the Assyrians, and many of their clay tablets still remain. They are of various sizes, ranging from nine inches long by six and a half wide, to an inch and a half by an inch wide, and even less. Some thousands of these have been recovered; many are historical, some linguistic, some geographical, some astronomical.

Notes

  1. ^ Beginning date refers to first attestations, the assumed origins of all scripts lie further back in the past.

References

  • Millard, A. R. (1986), "The Infancy of the Alphabet", World Archaeology 17 (3): 390–398 
  • Olivier, J.-P. (1986), "Cretan Writing in the Second Millennium B.C.", World Archaeology 17 (3): 377–389 

Further reading

21st century sources
Late 20th century sources
  • Andrew Robinson, The Story of Writing, Thames & Hudson 1995 (second edition: 1999). ISBN 0500281564
  • Hans J. Nissen, P. Damerow, R. Englund, Archaic Bookkeeping, University of Chicago Press, 1993, ISBN 0500016658
  • Denise Schmandt-Besserat    HomePage, How Writing Came About, University of Texas Press, 1992, ISBN 0-292-77704-3.
  • Saggs, H., 1991. Civilization Before Greece and Rome Yale University Press. Chapter 4.
  • Jack Goody, The Logic of Writing and the Organization of Society, Cambridge University Press, 1986
Earlier 20th century sources
  • Smith, William Anton. The Reading Process. New York: The Macmillan company, 1922.
  • Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopedia Britannica; A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature and General Information. Cambridge, Eng: University Press, 1911. "Writing".
  • Clodd, Edward. The Story of the Alphabet. Library of useful stories. New York: D. Appleton and Co, 1910.
  • Rawlings, Gertrude Burford. The Story of Books. London: Newnes, 1901.

External links


Advertisements






Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message