history writingIt’s amazing how we got used to taking everything for granted. Right now, when writing essays or doing research paper writing, we don’t think about how we actually got an opportunity to communicate to each other through writing. It was a long evolutionary process that we should get acquainted closer with in order to value it more.
The last time you’ve probably used the cave art writing technique was in your Arts class, where you had to complete an assignment on drawing a picture on a stone. I don’t think your English teacher would’ve appreciated if you turned in your essay writing on a stone with a single drawing. However, the first traces of writing appeared on rocks in caves. Ancient people 25000 years ago tried to tell each other stories through pictures – primitive, but informative.
The developing agrarian society of the 9000 BC brought new problems and solutions into the world of writing. Because people needed to count their property somehow, they invented counting tokens – differently shaped pieces of clay that conveyed specific meanings. These clay records of land eventually grew into the first written language – the Cuneiform script. It was created by the Sumerians in 3000 BC and looked as a system of pictographs. Their difference from counting tokens was dramatic. Instead of scribbling there were clay tablets, on which symbols were written with styluses. The impressions left by the stylus were wedge shaped, thus giving rise to the name cuneiform ("wedge shaped"). A lot of languages, including Akkadian, Elamite, and Hittite were later built on cuneiform.
The start was given, and now all ancient nations begun developing their custom writing systems. One of the first written words in Egypt was registered in 3100 BC, and it was the name of the pharaoh Nar-Mer. The Egyptians also developed acrophony – not an alphabet yet, but its close draft, where pictures stood for first sound in words. Egyptian words, therefore, looked as a set of brightly colored pictures.
Epigraphy was the next step for writing and preserving words. It was a system of writing on hard materials. But because the engraving of symbols into stones took too much time (nothing close to typing, so you can call yourself a lucky one), the search for perfection continued until the soft materials for writing were discovered, as well as ink instead of sharp styluses. Papyrus became a widely used writing item not only in Egypt, but in Mediterranean region, inland parts of Europe, and south-west Asia, as well. In 800 AD it was replaced by parchment (sheep and goat skin).
Greeks went even further, than Egyptians. They became the first nation to symbolize the vowels, and this is how the Greek alphabet appeared. Latin, Cyrillic, and Arabic – the languages that you are familiar with – were based on this alphabet. And this is how modern languages got their tickets to life.
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