The First Writing: Script Invention as History and Process

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Cambridge University Press, Dec 9, 2004 - History - 417 pages
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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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Contents

III
3
IV
16
V
39
VI
71
VII
100
VIII
150
IX
190
X
250
XI
262
XII
313
XIII
349
XV
354
XVI
395
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About the author (2004)

Stephen Houston is Professor of Anthropology at Brown University, Rhode Island. A scholar of the ancient Maya in Mexico and Central America, he is the author of many books on the Maya, most recently The Memory of Bones: Body, Being and Experience among the Classic Maya (with David Stuart and Taube, 2010).

Stephen Houston is Professor of Anthropology at Brown University, Rhode Island. A scholar of the ancient Maya in Mexico and Central America, he is the author of many books on the Maya, most recently The Memory of Bones: Body, Being and Experience among the Classic Maya (with David Stuart and Taube, 2010).

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