Invention of WritingInvention of Writing
∆ρ −− Ηυσσειν Αλ−Θυδραη
OneOne of the major elements in the development
of civilization was the invention of writing.
ItsIts original purpose was probably to leave
messages and to keep track of financial and
other transactions, but with the ability to
accumulate and preserve knowledge almost
every aspect of human life was transformed.
InIn the late Neolithic period, records had been
kept using small tokens in the shape of disks,
spheres, half spheres, cones, and other
figures, some of which were marked with
LatelyLately, in the middle of the 4th millennium BC, as cities and
large-scale trade developed, the use of tokens to maintain
records became too cumbersome.
The Mesopotamians substituted written images known as
ideographs for the tokens.
InIn the late period of the 4th millennium BC, these ideographs
evolved into a series of wedge-shaped marks that could be
impressed on a clay tablet quickly and easily with a split reed.
The system of wedge-shaped marks on clay is known as
Cuneiform which was adopted by the Sumerians .
 Cuneiform signs formed the basis of the earliest known alphabet, which was
devised around 1400 BC at Ugarit, on the northern Syrian coast. But the earliest
such semi-alphabetic writing is found in the so-called Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions,
which date back to about 1500 BC
AroundAround 3000 BC, shortly after the Sumerian
invention of cuneiform, the Egyptians introduced a
system of writing that is somewhat misleadingly
known as hieroglyphics, but Egyptian hieroglyphs
were used for funerary and commemorative
inscriptions as well as religious ones and were often
painted or written on papyrus .
ItIt is possible that the development of Egyptian
writing came as a result of Sumerian stimulus.
System of writing also developed, at a later date,
in the Indus Valley, in China, in Aegean, in Anatolia,
and in Mesoamerica.
 A material woven from the reeds that grew along the Nile River.
TheThe earliest writing in India dates back to the Indus
valley civilization, which flourished between 3000
and 2000 BC in what is now Pakistan.
SmallSmall, square seal-stones were carved with picture
signs, often accompanied by animals. The script has
never been deciphered, however.
WithWith the disappearance of the Indus valley culture,
knowledge of writing seems to have been lost for a
few centuries. By 600 BC, the Aryan invaders of India
had developed an alphabetic script.
UnderUnder the Maurya dynasty (4th - 2nd century BC) the
Brahman, ancestor of all modern Indian scripts, was
TheThe beginning of writing in China is difficult to trace.
Its first surviving appearance is in the form of
divination inscriptions on shells and bones worked
by the Lung Shan people around 2000 BC and found
far greater numbers at Anyang and other Shang sites
of the late 2nd millennium BC.
OracleOracle bonesbones (Anyang bones): it was the first form of
WhenWhen the priest wanted to ask ancestor spirits a
question, he wrote the question on a piece of bone,
he then put the bone into the fire until it cracked,
then ‘read’ the marks. This system is known as
TheThe Chinese system of writing remains virtually unique in
retaining its non-alphabetic form, the objects of everyday
life were represented by simple pictures, each character
was given a phonetic sound, consisting of one syllable.
MostMost other written languages in the world developed an
alphabetic system, many of them directly or indirectly
based on the earliest alphabet of all, the Semitic.
OneOne of the earliest decipherable inscriptions in alphabetic
writing is the calendar found at the Canaanite site of
Gezer, dating to the 11th century BC.
TheThe words roughly scratched on a schoolchild’s tablet of
soft limestone, consist of a poem describing the principal
agricultural occupations of the seasons.
InIn the New World the Mayans had formed a complex
system of hieroglyphic writing as early as the 4th
TheThe signs were based on pictures, and most of the
surviving examples take the form of monumental
inscriptions carved in stone. They were the first
Americans to develop picture writing.
OtherOther Mesoamerican people developed their own
script, notably the Aztecs and the Mixtecs, and
used them in extended manuscripts known as
codices. With the arrival of Europeans, the Roman
alphabet replaced hieroglyphic systems.
When it rains
you don’t see
the sun… but
it’s there …..