The First Writing: Script Invention as History and Process
Over 5,000 years ago the first writing began to appear in Egypt and Mesopotamia. Later still, ancient scripts flourished in China and Mesoamerica, with secondary developments in places such as Scandinavia. Drawing on top scholars, The First Writing offers the most up-to-date information on these systems of recording language and meaning. Unlike other treatments, this volume focuses on the origins of writing less as a mechanistic process than as a set of communicative practices rooted in history, culture, and semiotic logic. An important conclusion is that episodes of script development are more complex than previously thought, with some changes taking place over generations, and others, such as the creation of syllabaries and alphabets, occurring with great speed. Linguists will find much of interest in matters of phonic and semiotic representation; archaeologists and art historians will discover a rich source on administration, display and social evolution within early political systems.
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1N1 Scheil administrative Akkadian alphabet ancient Anyang appear archaic attested Aztec Babylonia Baines Boltz bone Bottéro bronze inscriptions century characters China Chinese writing complex consonantaries consonants context cultural cuneiform Damerow day signs decipherment derived diagram display divination Dreyer dynasty earliest early Egypt elements Englund evidence example full writing function Gelb glyphs graph graphemes graphic hieroglyphs Houston iconic ideographic inscribed interpretation invention Justeson khipu Lady Hao's later linguistic logograms logographic logophonic Maya script Mayan meaning Mesoamerica Mesopotamia millennium BC morphemes names Naqada Naqada II Nissen objects Olmec oracle texts origin period phonetic pictographic pictorial plastron proto-cuneiform proto-Elamite rebus record relationship repertory represent representation runes runic Scheil scholars scribes semantic sequence sexagesimal sexagesimal system Shang spoken language spoken sign Stela structure suggests Sumerian Susa syllabary syllabic symbolic tablets tomb U-j trecena vessels visual volume vowels words writing system written sign Wu Ding Yinxu