Friday, January 14, 2011

History Mystery: The First Written Word Part.I

Clay tokens used by the traders of Susa

 Since the dawn of the human existence, our earliest ancestors used visual signs, from cave paintings to symbols etched on the landscape, to convey information. The first pictorial writing system was developed around 3300 BC. It marked an evolutionary milestone allowing knowledge to be shared and recorded for future generations.
From 8000BC, Near Eastern communities used clay tokens in trading transactions. Geometric shapes represented commodities such as measures of grain and individual animals. When towns emerged in the 4th millennium BC, tokens were shaped to resemble the commodities they represented. Tokens for single transaction were kept together in a clay envelope marked to indicate its contents. Gradually traders realized that the marks alone recorded all the necessary information
A tablet from Jemdet Nasr

Around 3300BC, the first writing appeared in Sumer. Pictorial signs were pressed into flat clay tablets. Many different signs were invented to depict a large range of commodities and to express new meanings, such as the verb ‘to eat’ – made by combining a person’s head and a bowl. Several transactions were recorded on a single tablet in separate boxes or columns.

Sumerian writing was executed with a wedge shaped reed on a clay tablet, so curved shapes were difficult. By 3000 BC, signs were being modified into a series of straight lines- cuneiform (Wedge shaped writing). The signs quickly assumed conventional forms bearing little resemblance to the original pictograms. By 2600 BC, Sumerian script could be used to write any word in the Sumerian language. Writing was used for many purposes- economic transactions, royal inscriptions, labels, seals, and literature. The script - was modified to write another language spoken by the ancient Mesopotamians- Akkadian.  Other Near Eastern communities adopted cuneiform as they began to write.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.