history of writing
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The history of writing traces the development of expressing language by letters or other markings and also the studies and descriptions of these developments. In the history of how
writing systems A writing system is a method of visually representing verbal communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the act of developing Semantics, meaning among Subject (philosophy), entities or Organization, grou ...
have evolved in different human
civilizations A civilization (or civilisation) is any complex society that is characterized by urban development, social stratification Social stratification refers to a society's categorization Categorization is the human ability and activity of r ...
, more complete writing systems were preceded by ''
proto-writing Proto-writing consists of visible marks Communication, communicating limited information. Such systems emerged from earlier traditions of symbol systems in the early Neolithic, as early as the 7th millennium BC in Ancient China, China. They used i ...
'', systems of
ideographic An ideogram or ideograph (from Ancient Greek, Greek "idea" and "to write") is a graphic symbol that represents an idea or concept, independent of any particular language, and specific words or phrases. Some ideograms are comprehensible only b ...
or early
mnemonic A mnemonic () device, or memory device, is any learning technique that aids information retention or retrieval (remembering) in the human memory Memory is the faculty of the brain A brain is an organ (biology), organ that serves as the c ...

mnemonic
symbols (symbols or letters that make remembering them easier). ''True writing'', in which the content of a
linguistic utterance In spoken language A spoken language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing sy ...
is encoded so that another reader can reconstruct, with a fair degree of accuracy, the exact utterance written down, is a later development. It is distinguished from proto-writing, which typically avoids encoding grammatical words and
affixes In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include p ...
, making it more difficult or even impossible to reconstruct the exact meaning intended by the writer unless a great deal of context is already known in advance. One of the earliest known forms of written expression is
cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the Common Era. It is name ...

cuneiform
.


Inventions of writing

Writing was long thought to have been invented in a single civilization, a theory named "monogenesis". Scholars believed that all writing originated in ancient
Sumer Sumer ()The name is from AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Woods, "Akkadian and Eblaite", ''The Cambridge Encyclo ...

Sumer
(in
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the ...

Mesopotamia
) and spread over the world from there via a process of
cultural diffusion In cultural anthropology Cultural anthropology is a branch of anthropology Anthropology is the Science, scientific study of humanity, concerned with human behavior, human biology, cultures, and society, societies, in both the present and pas ...
. According to this theory, the concept of representing language by written marks, though not necessarily the specifics of how such a system worked, was passed on by traders or merchants traveling between geographical regions. However, the discovery of the scripts of ancient
Mesoamerica Mesoamerica is a historical and important region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics ( physical geography), human impact characteristics ( human geography), and the interaction of humanity and th ...
, far away from Middle Eastern sources, proved that writing had been invented more than once. Scholars now recognize that writing may have independently developed in at least four ancient civilizations: Mesopotamia (between 3400 and 3100 BCE),
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identif ...

Egypt
(around 3250 BCE), China (1200 BCE), and lowland areas of Southern Mexico and Guatemala (by 500 BCE). Regarding ancient Egypt, several scholars have argued that "the earliest solid evidence of Egyptian writing differs in structure and style from the Mesopotamian and must therefore have developed independently. The possibility of 'stimulus diffusion' from Mesopotamia remains, but the influence cannot have gone beyond the transmission of an idea." Regarding China, it is believed that ancient Chinese characters are an independent invention because there is no evidence of contact between ancient China and the literate civilizations of the Near East, and because of the distinct differences between the Mesopotamian and Chinese approaches to
logography In a written language, a logogram or logograph is a written character that represents a word or morpheme. Chinese characters (pronounced ''hanzi'' in Mandarin, ''kanji'' in Japanese, ''hanja'' in Korean and ''Hán tự'' in Vietnamese) are gener ...
and phonetic representation. Debate surrounds the
Indus script Collection of seals The Indus script (also known as the Harappan script) is a corpus of symbols produced by the Indus Valley Civilization , c. 2500 BCE. Terracotta figurines indicate the yoking of zebu oxen for pulling a cart and the ...

Indus script
of the
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the Three-age syst ...
Indus Valley civilization, the Rongorongo script of Easter Island, and the Vinča symbols dated around 5,500 BCE. All are Undeciphered writing systems, undeciphered, and so it is unknown if they represent authentic writing,
proto-writing Proto-writing consists of visible marks Communication, communicating limited information. Such systems emerged from earlier traditions of symbol systems in the early Neolithic, as early as the 7th millennium BC in Ancient China, China. They used i ...
, or something else. The Sumerian language, Sumerian archaic (pre-cuneiform (script), cuneiform) writing and Egyptian hieroglyphs are generally considered the earliest true writing systems, both emerging out of their ancestral proto-literate symbol systems from 3400–3100 BCE, with earliest coherent texts from about 26th century BCE, 2600 BCE. The Proto-Elamite, Proto-Elamite script is also dated to the same approximate period.


Writing systems

Symbolic communication, Symbolic communication systems are distinguished from writing systems. With writing systems, one must usually understand something of the associated spoken language to comprehend the text. In contrast, 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 humanity (see Origin of language). However the development of writing systems, and their partial supplantation of traditional orality, oral systems of communication, have 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 that no longer exist in the spoken language. There are considered to be three writing criteria for all writing systems. Firstly, writing must be complete: it must have a purpose or some sort of meaning to it, and a point must be made or communicated in the text. Secondly, all writing systems must have some sort of symbols which can be made on some sort of surface, whether physical or digital. Lastly, the symbols used in the writing system must mimic spoken word/speech, in order for communication to be possible. The greatest benefit of writing is that it provides the tool by which society can record information consistently and in greater detail, something that could not be achieved as well previously by spoken word. Writing allows societies to transmit information and to share and preserve knowledge.


Recorded history

The origins of writing appear during the start of the Late Neolithic, pottery-phase of the Neolithic, when clay tokens were used to record specific amounts of livestock or commodities. These tokens were initially impressed on the surface of History of ancient numeral systems#Clay token, round clay envelopes and then stored in them. The tokens were then progressively replaced by flat tablets, on which signs were recorded with a stylus. Actual writing is first recorded in Uruk, at the end of the 4th millennium BC, and soon after in various parts of the Near-East."Beginning in the pottery-phase of the Neolithic, clay tokens are widely attested as a system of counting and identifying specific amounts of specified livestock or commodities. The tokens, enclosed in clay envelopes after being impressed on their rounded surface, were gradually replaced by impressions on flat or plano-convex tablets, and these in turn by more or less conventionalized pictures of the tokens incised on the clay with a reed stylus. That final step completed the transition to full writing, and with it the consequent ability to record contemporary events for posterity" An ancient
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the ...

Mesopotamia
n poem gives the first known story of the invention of writing: Scholars make a reasonable distinction between prehistory and history of early writingShotwell, James Thomson. An Introduction to the History of History. Records of civilization, sources and studies. New York: Columbia University Press, 1922. but have disagreed concerning when prehistory becomes history and when proto-writing became "true writing." The definition is largely subjective. Writing, in its most general terms, is a method of recording information and is composed of graphemes, which may, in turn, be composed of glyphs. The emergence of writing in a given area is usually followed by several centuries of fragmentary inscriptions. Historians mark the "historicity" of a culture by the presence of coherent texts in the culture's writing system(s).


Developmental stages

cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the Common Era. It is name ...

cuneiform
s, Egyptian language, Egyptian hieroglyphs and Chinese characters. A conventional "proto-writing to true writing" system follows a general series of developmental stages: *''Picture writing system'': glyphs (simplified pictures) directly represent objects and concepts. In connection with this, the following substages may be distinguished: ** Mnemonic: glyphs primarily as a reminder. ** Pictographic: glyphs directly represent an object or a concept such as (A) chronological, (B) notices, (C) communications, (D) totems, titles, and names, (E) religious, (F) customs, (G) historical, and (H) biographical. ** Ideographic: graphemes are abstract symbols that directly represent an idea or concept. *''Transitional system'': graphemes refer not only to the object or idea that it represents but to its name as well. *''Phonetic system'': graphemes refer to sounds or spoken symbols, and the form of the grapheme is not related to its meanings. This resolves itself into the following substages: ** Verbal: grapheme (logogram) represents a whole word. ** Syllabic: grapheme represents a syllable. ** Alphabetic: grapheme represents an elementary sound. The best known picture writing system of ideogram, ideographic or early
mnemonic A mnemonic () device, or memory device, is any learning technique that aids information retention or retrieval (remembering) in the human memory Memory is the faculty of the brain A brain is an organ (biology), organ that serves as the c ...

mnemonic
symbols are: * Jiahu symbols, carved on tortoise Animal shell, shells in Jiahu, c. 6600 BC * Vinča signs (Tărtăria tablets), c. 5300 BCHaarmann, Harald: "Geschichte der Schrift", C.H. Beck, 2002, , p. 20 * Early
Indus script Collection of seals The Indus script (also known as the Harappan script) is a corpus of symbols produced by the Indus Valley Civilization , c. 2500 BCE. Terracotta figurines indicate the yoking of zebu oxen for pulling a cart and the ...

Indus script
, c. 3100 BC In the Old World, true writing systems developed from neolithic writing in the Early Bronze Age (4th millennium BC).


Literature and writing

The history of literature begins with the history of writing, but literature and writing, though obviously connected, are not synonymous. The very first writings from ancient
Sumer Sumer ()The name is from AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Woods, "Akkadian and Eblaite", ''The Cambridge Encyclo ...

Sumer
by any reasonable definition do not constitute literature. The same is true of some of the early Egyptian hieroglyphics and the thousands of ancient Chinese government records. Scholars have disagreed concerning when written record-keeping became more like literature, but the oldest surviving literary texts date from a full millennium after the invention of writing. The earliest literary authors known by name are Ptahhotep (who wrote in Old Egyptian language, Egyptian) and Enheduanna (who wrote in Sumerian language, Sumerian), dating to around the 24th century BC, 24th and 23rd century BC, 23rd centuries BC, respectively.


Locations and timeframes


Proto-writing

The first
writing systems A writing system is a method of visually representing verbal communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the act of developing Semantics, meaning among Subject (philosophy), entities or Organization, grou ...
of the Early Bronze Age were not a sudden invention. 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. These systems may be described as "proto-writing." They used ideogram, ideographic or early
mnemonic A mnemonic () device, or memory device, is any learning technique that aids information retention or retrieval (remembering) in the human memory Memory is the faculty of the brain A brain is an organ (biology), organ that serves as the c ...

mnemonic
symbols to convey information, but it probably directly contained no natural language. These systems emerged in the early Neolithic period, as early as the 7th millennium BC, and include: * The Jiahu symbols found carved in tortoise shells in 24 Neolithic graves excavated at Jiahu, Henan province, northern China, with radiocarbon dates from the 7th millennium BC. Most archaeologists consider these not directly linked to the earliest true writing. * Vinča symbols, sometimes called the "Danube script" - are a set of symbols found on Neolithic Europe, Neolithic era (6th to 5th millennia BC) artifacts from the Vinča culture of Central Europe and Southeastern Europe. * The Dispilio Tablet of the late 6th millennium may also be an example of proto-writing. * The
Indus script Collection of seals The Indus script (also known as the Harappan script) is a corpus of symbols produced by the Indus Valley Civilization , c. 2500 BCE. Terracotta figurines indicate the yoking of zebu oxen for pulling a cart and the ...

Indus script
, which from 3500 BCE to 1900 BCE was used for extremely short inscriptions. Even after the Neolithic, several cultures went through an intermediate stage of proto-writing before they used proper writing. The quipu of the Incas (15th century AD), sometimes called "talking knots," may have been such a system. Another example is the pictographs invented by Uyaquk before the development of the Yugtun script, Yugtun syllabary for the Central Alaskan Yup'ik language in about 1900.


Bronze Age writing

Writing emerged in many different cultures in the
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the Three-age syst ...
. Examples are the
cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the Common Era. It is name ...

cuneiform
writing of the
Sumer Sumer ()The name is from AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Woods, "Akkadian and Eblaite", ''The Cambridge Encyclo ...

Sumer
ians, Egyptian hieroglyphs, Cretan hieroglyphs, Chinese logographs,
Indus script Collection of seals The Indus script (also known as the Harappan script) is a corpus of symbols produced by the Indus Valley Civilization , c. 2500 BCE. Terracotta figurines indicate the yoking of zebu oxen for pulling a cart and the ...

Indus script
, and the Olmec script of Mesoamerica. The Chinese script likely developed independently of the Middle Eastern scripts around 1600 BC. The pre-Columbian Mesoamerican writing systems (including Olmec and Maya scripts) are also generally believed to have had independent origins. It is thought that the first true alphabetic writing was developed around 2000 BC for Semitic people, Semitic workers in the Sinai by giving mostly Egyptian hieratic glyphs Semitic values (see History of the alphabet and Proto-Sinaitic alphabet). 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. 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 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'' (c. AD 200 to 750).


Cuneiform script

The original Sumerian writing system derives from a History of writing ancient numbers#Clay tokens, 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 by using a sharp stylus to indicate what was being counted. By the 29th century BC, writing, at first only for logograms, using a wedge-shaped stylus (hence the term cuneiform script, cuneiform) developed to include phonetic elements, gradually replacing round-stylus and sharp-stylus writing by around 2700–2500 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 language, Hurrian and Hittite language, Hittite. Scripts similar in appearance to this writing system include those for Ugaritic alphabet, Ugaritic and Old Persian language, 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 as scribes, in the service of temple, royal (pharaonic), and military authorities. Geoffrey Sampson stated that Egyptian hieroglyphs "came into existence a little after Sumerian script, and, probably [were], invented under the influence of the latter", and that it is "probable that the general idea of expressing words of a language in writing was brought to Egypt from Sumerian
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the ...

Mesopotamia
". 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". Instead, 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..." Since the 1990s, the discoveries of Scorpion I, glyphs at Abydos, Egypt, 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."The seal impressions, from various tombs, date even further back, to 3400 B.C. These dates challenge the commonly held belief that early logographs, pictographic symbols representing a specific place, object, or quantity, first evolved into more complex phonetic symbols in Mesopotamia." These glyphs, found in tomb U-J at Abydos are written on ivory and are likely labels for other goods found in the grave.


Elamite script

The undeciphered Proto-Elamite script emerges from as early as 3100 BC. It is believed to have evolved into Linear Elamite by the later 3rd millennium and then replaced by Elamite Cuneiform adopted from Akkadian.


Indus script

Early
Indus script Collection of seals The Indus script (also known as the Harappan script) is a corpus of symbols produced by the Indus Valley Civilization , c. 2500 BCE. Terracotta figurines indicate the yoking of zebu oxen for pulling a cart and the ...

Indus script
markings found at Harappa have been dated back to about 3300–3200 BCE belonging to the early Indus Valley Civilisation corresponding to what is now Pakistan. The script has not yet been deciphered. It is unclear whether it should be considered an example of proto-writing or whether 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."


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 people, 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 (c. 1400 BC) Byblos syllabary and the South Arabian alphabet (c. 1200 BC). The Proto-Canaanite was probably somehow influenced by the undeciphered Byblos syllabary and, in turn, inspired the Ugaritic alphabet (c. 1300 BC).


Anatolian hieroglyphs

Anatolian hieroglyphs are an indigenous hieroglyphic script native to western Anatolia, used to record the Hieroglyphic Luwian language. It first appeared on Luwian hieroglyphs, Luwian royal seals from the 14th century BC.


Chinese writing

The earliest confirmed evidence of the Chinese script yet discovered is the body of inscriptions on oracle bones and bronze from the late Shang dynasty. The earliest of these is dated to around 1200 BC. There have recently been discoveries of tortoise-shell carvings dating back to c. 6000 BC, like Jiahu Script, Banpo Script, but whether or not the carvings are complex enough to qualify as writing is under debate. At Damaidi in the Ningxia, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, 3,172 cliff carvings dating to 6000–5000 BC have been discovered, featuring 8,453 individual characters, such as the sun, moon, stars, gods, and scenes of hunting or grazing. These pictographs are reputed to be similar to the earliest characters confirmed to be written Chinese. If it is deemed to be a written language, writing in China will predate Mesopotamian cuneiform, long acknowledged as the first appearance of writing, by some 2,000 years; however it is more likely that the inscriptions are rather a form of
proto-writing Proto-writing consists of visible marks Communication, communicating limited information. Such systems emerged from earlier traditions of symbol systems in the early Neolithic, as early as the 7th millennium BC in Ancient China, China. They used i ...
, similar to the contemporary European Vinca script.


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, 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 (note that the beginning date refers to first attestations, the assumed origins of all scripts lie further back in the past):


Mesoamerica

A stone slab with 3,000-year-old writing, the Cascajal Block, 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. Of several pre-Columbian scripts in
Mesoamerica Mesoamerica is a historical and important region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics ( physical geography), human impact characteristics ( human geography), and the interaction of humanity and th ...
, the one that appears to have been best developed, and has been 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: a combination somewhat similar to modern Japanese writing.


Iron Age writing

File:Interpretation of Queen Maya's dream.jpg, left, The sculpture depicts a scene where three soothsayers are interpreting to King Suddhodana the dream of Queen Maya (mother of Buddha), Maya, mother of Gautama Buddha. Below them is seated a scribe recording the interpretation. From Nagarjunakonda, 2nd century CE. :File:Child_learning_Brahmi_Alphabets,_Shunga_era_2nd_Century_BCE,_National_Museum,_New_Delhi.jpg, A child learning the Brahmi Alphabet is also known from the 2nd century BC in Srughna. 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 alphabet, Aramaic and Greek alphabet, Greek alphabets. These in turn led to the writing systems used throughout regions ranging from Western Asia to Africa and Europe. For its part the Greek alphabet introduced for the first time explicit symbols for vowel sounds. 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 alphabet, Gothic and Cyrillic script, Cyrillic alphabets while the Aramaic alphabet evolved into the Hebrew alphabet, Hebrew, Arabic alphabet, Arabic and Syriac alphabet, Syriac abjads, of which the latter spread as far as Mongolian script. The South Arabian alphabet gave rise to the Ge'ez abugida. The Brahmic family of Indian subcontinent, India is believed by some scholars to have derived from the Aramaic alphabet as well.


Grakliani Hill writing

A previously unknown script was discovered in Georgia (country), Georgia, over the Grakliani Hill just below a temple's collapsed altar to a fertility goddess from the seventh century BCE. These inscriptions differ from those at other temples at Grakliani, which show animals, people, or decorative elements. The script bears no resemblance to any alphabet currently known, although its letters are conjectured to be related to ancient Greek alphabet, Greek and Aramaic. The inscription appears to be the oldest native alphabet to be discovered in the whole Caucasus region, In comparison, the earliest Armenian script, Armenian (8th century) and Georgian script date from the fifth century AD, just after the respective cultures converted to Christianity. By September 2015, an area of 31 by 3 inches of the inscription had been excavated. According to Vakhtang Licheli, head of the Institute of Archaeology of the State University, "The writings on the two altars of the temple are really well preserved. On the one altar several letters are carved in clay while the second altar’s pedestal is wholly covered with writings. The finding was made by unpaid students. In 2016 Grakliani Hill inscriptions were taken to Miami, Miami Laboratory for Radiocarbon dating, Beta analytic radiocarbon dating which shocked the world; Inscriptions are made in 1005-950 BC. According to Licheli, who headed the archaeological expedition, the collective findings affirm the 3000-year-old existence of a Georgian statehood.


Writing in the Greco-Roman civilizations

The history of the Greek alphabet began in at least the early 8th century BCE when the Greeks adapted the Phoenician alphabet for use with their own language.McCarter, P. Kyle. "The Early Diffusion of the Alphabet", ''The Biblical Archaeologist'' 37, No. 3 (Sep., 1974): 54-68. page 62. The letters of the Greek alphabet are more or less the same as those of the Phoenician alphabet, and in modern times both alphabets are arranged in the same order. The adapter(s) of the Phoenician system added three letters to the end of the series, called the "supplementals". Several varieties of the Greek alphabet developed. One, known as Cumae alphabet, Western Greek or Chalcidian, was used west of Athens and in southern Italy. The other variation, known as History of the Greek alphabet, Eastern Greek, was used in present-day Turkey and by the Athenians, and eventually the rest of the world that spoke Greek adopted this variation. After first writing right to left, like the Phoenicians, the Greeks eventually chose to write from left to right. Occasionally however, the writer would start the next line where the previous line finished, so that the lines would read alternately left to right, then right to left, and so on. This was known as "boustrophedon" writing, which imitated the path of an ox-drawn plough, and was used until the sixth century. Greek is in turn the source for all the modern scripts of Europe. The most widespread descendant of Greek is the Latin script, named for the Latins (Italic tribe), Latins, a central Italian people who came to dominate Europe with the rise of Rome. The Romans learned writing in about the 5th century BC from the Etruscan civilization, who used one of a number of Italic scripts derived from the western Greeks. Due to the cultural dominance of the Roman state, the other Italic scripts have not survived in any great quantity, and the Etruscan language is mostly lost.


Writing during the Middle Ages

With the collapse of the Roman Empire, Roman authority in Western Europe, literary development became largely confined to the Byzantine Empire, Eastern Roman Empire and the Persian Empire. Latin, never one of the primary literary languages, rapidly declined in importance (except within the Roman Catholic Church). The primary literary languages were Greek language, Greek and Persian language, Persian, though other languages such as Syriac language, Syriac and Coptic language, Coptic were important too. The rise of Islam in the 7th century led to the rapid rise of Arabic language, Arabic as a major literary language in the region. Arabic and Persian quickly began to overshadow Greek's role as a language of scholarship. Arabic script was adopted as the primary script of the Persian language and the Turkish language. This script also heavily influenced the development of the cursive scripts of Greek, the Slavic languages, Latin language, Latin, and other languages. The Arabic language also served to spread the Hindu–Arabic numeral system throughout Europe. By the beginning of the second millennium, the city of Córdoba, Andalusia, Cordoba in modern Spain had become one of the foremost intellectual centers of the world and contained the world's largest library at the time. Its position as a crossroads between the Islamic and Western Christian worlds helped fuel intellectual development and written communication between both cultures.


Renaissance and the modern era

By the 14th century a rebirth, or ''renaissance'', had emerged in Western Europe, leading to a temporary revival of the importance of Greek, and a slow revival of Latin as a significant literary language. A similar though smaller emergence occurred in Eastern Europe, especially in Russia. At the same time Arabic and Persian began a slow decline in importance as the Islamic Golden Age ended. 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 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 a physical motion with the hand. The nature of the written word has recently evolved to include an informal, colloquial written style, in which 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 is a preservable means of communication.


Writing materials

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.McClintock, J., & Strong, J. (1885)
Cyclopedia of Biblical, theological, and ecclesiastical literature
Supplement. New York: Harper. Pages 990–997.
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. Metals, such as stamped coins, are mentioned as a material of writing; they include lead, brass, and gold. There are also references to the engraving of gems, such as with seals or signets. 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 small pieces of clay, somewhat crudely shaped into a form resembling a pillow, and thickly inscribed with cuneiform characters. 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 require the aid of a magnifying-glass. In Egypt the principal writing material was of quite a different sort. Wooden tablets are found pictured on the monuments; but the material which was in common use, even from very ancient times, was the papyrus, having recorded use as far back as 3,000 B.C.E. 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. 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. 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. Wood-pulp paper is still used today, and in recent times efforts have been made in order to improve bond strength of fibers. Two main areas of examination in this regard have been "dry strength of paper" and "wet web strength". The former involves examination of the physical properties of the paper itself, while the latter involves using additives to improve strength.


See also

;Main:Phonetics, Palaeography, logograms, Brahmi, Devanagari, logographic, Vinča signs, Asemic writing ;General: Alphabet, Palaeography, Inscriptions, Book, Manuscript, Shorthand, Latin alphabet, writing system, Braille, ogham,
Indus script Collection of seals The Indus script (also known as the Harappan script) is a corpus of symbols produced by the Indus Valley Civilization , c. 2500 BCE. Terracotta figurines indicate the yoking of zebu oxen for pulling a cart and the ...

Indus script
, Mixtec, uncials, Zapotec civilization, Zapotec, Aurignacian, Chinese characters (Kanji, Hanja), Ugarit, Katakana, Hiragana, Acheulean, Ethnoarchaeology, Hoabinhian, Gravettian, Oldowan, Uruk, Etruscan alphabet, Etruscan, Cretan hieroglyphs, Nabataean, Luwian, Olmec, Busra, Tamil language, Tamil, Kannada, Grakliani Hill ;Other: History of numbers, History of art (Ancient art), Oral literature, History of developmental dyslexia, Protoscholastic writing *Bastarda *Blackletter *Book hand *Calligraphy *Chancery hand *Court hand (also known as common law hand, Anglicana, cursiva antiquior, or charter hand) *Cursive *Hand (writing style) *Handwriting *Italic script *Law hand *Penmanship *Ronde script (calligraphy) *Rotunda (script) *Round hand *Secretary hand


Notes


References


Citations


Sources

* * * * Lambert, J.L.F. (2014-2017). Termcraft: The emergence of terminology science from the Vinčans and Sumerians to Aristotle. Lulu Press. .


Further reading

; 21st century sources * ''The Idea of Writing: Writing Across Borders.'' Edited by Alex de Voogt, Joachim Friedrich Quack. BRILL, 9 Dec 2011. *Barry B. Powell, Powell, Barry B. 2009. ''Writing: Theory and History of the Technology of Civilization,'' Oxford: Blackwell. * Steven R. Fischer ''A History of Writing'', Reaktion Books 2005 CN136481 * Hoffman, Joel M. 2004
''In the Beginning: A Short History of the Hebrew Language.''
New York University Press. Chapter 3. * Jean-Jacques Glassner. ''The Invention of Cuneiform: Writing in Sumer.'' JHU Press, 2003. ; Late 20th century sources * W. Andrew Robinson, Andrew Robinson, ''The Story of Writing.'' Thames & Hudson 1995 (second edition: 1999). * Hans J. Nissen, P. Damerow, R. Englund, ''Archaic Bookkeeping'', University of Chicago Press, 1993, * Denise Schmandt-Besserat, ''Before Writing, Vol. I: From Counting to Cuneiform.'' University of Texas Press, 1992. * Denise Schmandt-Besserat
HomePage
''How Writing Came About'', University of Texas Press, 1992, . * 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 * David Diringer ''Writing.'' New York: Praeger. 1962. * Otto Neugebauer, Abraham Joseph Sachs, Albrecht Götze. ''Mathematical Cuneiform Texts.'' Pub. jointly by the American Oriental Society and the American Schools of Oriental Research, 1945. * William Anton Smith, Smith, William Anton
''The Reading Process''
New York: The Macmillan company, 1922. * Hugh Chisholm, Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica. A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature and General Information. Cambridge, Eng: University Press, 1911. "Writing". * Edward Clodd, Clodd, Edward
''The Story of the Alphabet''
Library of useful stories.


External links

; Cuneiform
cdli:wiki
Assyriological tools for specialists in cuneiform studies ; General

historian.net

*[http://thenewpostliterate.blogspot.com/ The New Post-Literate] *Denise Schmandt-Besserat &nbs
HomePage
; Broadcasts
Cracking the Maya Code
Nova (American TV series), NOVA, Public Broadcasting Service.
Timeline (flash)

BBC on tortoise shells discovered in ChinaFragments of pottery discovered in modern PakistanEgyptian hieroglyphs c. 3000 BC
{{DEFAULTSORT:History of Writing History of writing,