Author Topic: Writing was apparently invented by accountants  (Read 79 times)


  • Megadux
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Writing was apparently invented by accountants
« on: June 21, 2017, 06:28:43 PM »

The Egyptians used to believe that literacy was divine, a gift from baboon-faced Thoth, the god of knowledge. Scholars no longer embrace that theory, but why ancient civilisations developed writing was a mystery for a long time. Was it for religious or artistic reasons? To communicate with distant armies?

The mystery deepened in 1929, when a German archaeologist named Julius Jordan unearthed a vast library of clay tablets that were 5,000 years old. They were far older than the samples of writing already discovered in China, Egypt and Mesoamerica, and were written in an abstract script that became known as "cuneiform".

The tablets came from Uruk, a Mesopotamian settlement on the banks of the Euphrates in what is now Iraq. The ruins of Uruk and other Mesopotamian cities were littered with mysterious little clay objects. Uruk was small by today's standards - with only a few thousand inhabitants - but in its time was huge, one of the world's first true cities. "He built the town wall of 'Uruk', city of sheepfolds," proclaims the Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the earliest works of literature. "Look at its wall with its frieze like bronze! Gaze at its bastions, which none can equal!"

This great city had produced writing that no modern scholar could decipher. What did it say?

I found this pretty fascinating and well worth the read - basically detailing how early counting methods may have led to writing as an accounting and organisational technique in the first instance :)

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