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History of writing

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❶The pre-Columbian Mesoamerican writing systems including Olmec and Maya scripts are also generally believed to have had independent origins.

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The earliest form of writing


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The history of writing traces the development of expressing language by letters or other marks and also the studies and descriptions of these developments. 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.

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The earliest form of writing was pictographs – symbols which represented objects – and served to aid in remembering such things as which parcels of grain had gone to which destination or how many sheep were needed for events like sacrifices in the temples.

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For the next step toward the development of an alphabet, we must go to Egypt where picture writing had developed sometime near the end of the 4th millennium BC. One of the earliest examples is the name of NAR-MER, either the first or second Pharoah of an united Egypt in BCE. The earliest writing systems evolved independently and at roughly the same time in Egypt and Mesopotamia, but current scholarship suggests that Mesopotamia’s writing appeared first. That writing system, invented by the Sumerians, emerged in Mesopotamia around BCE.

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In the beginning, all writing was a form of accounting. As people developed agriculture, settled into towns, and began trading goods, they needed a way of keeping records of their exchanges. The first account records were small, marked clay tokens that represented quantities of various products, whether numbers of sheep, bags of grain, or loaves of bread. First developed around B.C. by Sumerian scribes in the ancient city-state of Uruk, in present-day Iraq, as a means of recording transactions, cuneiform writing was created by using a reed.