History of writing

writinginvention of writingProto-writingdevelopment of writingprotoliteraterecordedwriting systemswritten records3400-3200 BCage
The history of writing traces the development of expressing language by letters or other marks and also the studies and descriptions of these developments.wikipedia
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4th millennium BC

4th millennium BCELate Chalcolithicfourth millennium
By the end of the 4th millennium BC, this had evolved into a method of keeping accounts, using a round-shaped stylus impressed into soft clay at different angles for recording numbers.

Sumer

SumeriansSumeriaSumerian
Scholars believed that all writing originated in ancient Sumer (in Mesopotamia) and spread throughout the world from there via a process of cultural diffusion.
The necessity to manage temple accounts with this organization led to the development of writing (c.

Bronze Age

Late Bronze AgeEarly Bronze AgeBronze
Debate surrounds the Indus script of the Bronze Age Indus Valley civilization, the Rongorongo script of Easter Island, and the Vinča symbols dated around 5,500 BCE.
Bronze Age cultures differed in their development of the first writing.

Egypt-Mesopotamia relations

Egypt–Mesopotamia relationsstimulus diffusion' from Mesopotamia
Regarding Egypt, several scholars have argued that "the earliest solid evidence of Egyptian writing differs in structure and style from the Mesopotamian and must therefore have developed independently. The possibility of 'stimulus diffusion' from Mesopotamia remains, but the influence cannot have gone beyond the transmission of an idea."
Standard reconstructions of the development of writing generally place the development of the Sumerian proto-cuneiform script before the development of Egyptian hierogplyphs, with the suggestion the former influenced the latter.

Prehistory

prehistoricprehistoric timesprehistorian
Scholars make a reasonable distinction between prehistory and history of early writing but have disagreed concerning when prehistory becomes history and when proto-writing became "true writing."
The invention of writing coincides in some areas with the early beginnings of the Bronze Age.

Cuneiform

cuneiform scriptAkkadian cuneiformSumerian cuneiform
One of the earliest forms of written expression is cuneiform. The Sumerian archaic (pre-cuneiform) writing and Egyptian hieroglyphs are generally considered the earliest true writing systems, both emerging out of their ancestral proto-literate symbol systems from 3400–3100 BC, with earliest coherent texts from about 2600 BC.
There are many instances of Egypt-Mesopotamia relations at the time of the invention of writing, and standard reconstructions of the development of writing generally place the development of the Sumerian proto-cuneiform script before the development of Egyptian hieroglyphs, with the suggestion the former influenced the latter.

Orality

oraloral cultureCopious
However the development of writing systems, and their partial supplantation of traditional oral systems of communication, have been sporadic, uneven, and slow.

Jiahu

Jiahu settlements
* The Jiahu symbols found carved in tortoise shells in 24 Neolithic graves excavated at Jiahu, Henan province, northern China, with radiocarbon dates from the 7th millennium BC.
At Jiahu, archaeologists identified eleven markings of Jiahu symbols, also known as pictograms: nine on tortoise shells and two on bone, as possible evidence for proto-writing.

Logogram

logographiclogographlogograms
Regarding China, ancient Chinese characters are an independent invention because there is no evidence of contact between ancient China and the literate civilizations of the Near East, and because of the distinct differences between the Mesopotamian and Chinese approaches to logography and phonetic representation.
Logographic systems include the earliest writing systems; the first historical civilizations of the Near East, Africa, China, and Central America used some form of logographic writing.

Book

booksmonographbiblio
When writing systems were created in ancient civilizations, a variety of objects, such as stone, clay, tree bark, metal sheets, and bones, were used for writing; these are studied in epigraphy.

History of ancient numeral systems

History of writing ancient numbersclay tokensClay tokens system
The original Sumerian writing system derives from a system of clay tokens used to represent commodities.

History of the alphabet

SemiticSemitic abjadSemitic alphabet
It is thought that the first true alphabetic writing was developed around 2000 BC for Semitic workers in the Sinai by giving mostly Egyptian hieratic glyphs Semitic values (see History of the alphabet and Proto-Sinaitic alphabet).

Phoenician alphabet

PhoenicianPhoenician scriptSemitic
Most other alphabets in the world today either descended from this one innovation, many via the Phoenician alphabet, or were directly inspired by its design.

Egyptian hieroglyphs

hieroglyphicshieroglyphichieroglyphs
The Sumerian archaic (pre-cuneiform) writing and Egyptian hieroglyphs are generally considered the earliest true writing systems, both emerging out of their ancestral proto-literate symbol systems from 3400–3100 BC, with earliest coherent texts from about 2600 BC.

Asemic writing

asemicartistic in naturefalse writing system

Uruk

Proto-writing

proto-literateUrnfield culture numerals(proto-)writing
In the history of how writing systems have evolved in different human civilizations, more complete writing systems were preceded by proto-writing, systems of ideographic or early mnemonic symbols (symbols or letters that make remembering them easier).

Utterance

utterancesexpressionexpressions
True writing, in which the content of a linguistic utterance is encoded so that another reader can reconstruct, with a fair degree of accuracy, the exact utterance written down, is a later development.

Mesopotamia

MesopotamianMesopotamiansAncient Iraq
Scholars believed that all writing originated in ancient Sumer (in Mesopotamia) and spread throughout the world from there via a process of cultural diffusion.

Trans-cultural diffusion

cultural diffusiondiffusiondiffusionist
Scholars believed that all writing originated in ancient Sumer (in Mesopotamia) and spread throughout the world from there via a process of cultural diffusion.

Mesoamerica

MesoamericanMeso-AmericanMeso-America
However, the discovery of the scripts of ancient Mesoamerica and Peru, far away from Middle Eastern sources, proved that writing could be invented independently.

Peru

PerúRepublic of PeruPeruvian
However, the discovery of the scripts of ancient Mesoamerica and Peru, far away from Middle Eastern sources, proved that writing could be invented independently.

Oracle bone script

Oracle scriptoracle bone inscriptionsJiaguwen
Regarding China, ancient Chinese characters are an independent invention because there is no evidence of contact between ancient China and the literate civilizations of the Near East, and because of the distinct differences between the Mesopotamian and Chinese approaches to logography and phonetic representation.

Indus script

Indus Valley scriptHarappan scriptancient India
Debate surrounds the Indus script of the Bronze Age Indus Valley civilization, the Rongorongo script of Easter Island, and the Vinča symbols dated around 5,500 BCE.