Ancient Writing Pre-requisites for Civilization Agriculture developed in the Fertile Crescent around 9000 bce Mining and use of copper around 6000 bce Growth of villages and towns Division of labor Smelting of tin and copper to make bronze around 3000 bce > Bronze Age Invention of Writing Writing developed on the basis of earlier existing pictographs and ideographs-- pictures began to be used to denote syllables of sound, not meaning alone Modern humans began drawing pictures 40,000 years ago (San in SW Africa, Australian Aborigines, Cro-Magnon in southwest Europe). True writing is thought to have been invented independently at least twice and perhaps three times in different places and times in human history: in ancient Sumeria by 3200 bce -- where cuneiform developed in ancient Mexico by the Olmecs before 400 bce--the precursor to the Maya glyphs (used 200—1500 ce) Writing may have been invented a third time independently: in North China by 1200 bce - -the precursor of modern Chinese characters Stimulus Diffusion After the Sumerians, the idea of writing seems to have diffused to many peoples of Southwest Asia and Egypt. The Egyptians, the Cretans, the Elamites, and the Indus Valley peoples developed writing. Clay inscriptions dating back as far a 2500 bce have been found in these areas. As yet none of the inscriptions from Crete or the Indus Valley have been deciphered. It is virtually certain that these peoples borrowed the idea of writing syllables of sound by using pictures. THE FERTILE CRESCENT Divine Invention In Mesopotamia, the Sumerians credit either the god Enlil or Ningizzida, Lord of the Tree of Truth, as the creator of writing. Later during Assyrian, and Babylonian periods, the god Nabu was credited as the inventor of writing and scribe of the gods. Mesopotamian scribal gods also exhibit the power of creation via divine speech. Divine Invention Egypt and Phoenicia In ancient Egypt, the invention of writing is attributed to the god Thoth or Tehuti (Dhwty in Egyptian), the scribe and historian of the gods, who also kept the calendar and invented art and science. Taautos of Byblos, the Phoenician precursor of Thoth, was the father of tautology or imitation. The Greeks associated both gods with their god, Hermes At first, the Sumerians used stone and clay tokens, which represented various goods and numerical values, to keep track of their mercantile dealings. Around 3200 B.C. these tokens were replaced by markings made on clay tablets and written language was born. The first cuneiform writings consisted of pictograms, drawings of the items represented. Shortly thereafter ideograms, or abstract symbols, were also used. Mesopotamian Writing Tablet of pre-cuneiform script South Mesopotamia Uruk III, end of 4th millenium BC. Clay (?sun-baked clay) Louvre Cuneiform Clay Tablet, ca. 1900 bce. Cuneiform recorded all important activities, from the sale of land to marriage and adoption contracts. By the middle of the third millennium bce, the Sumerian written language was developed enough to record oral epic poetry, such as The Epic of Gilgamesh Student Practice Tablet Literacy was a highly valued skill Sumerians set up first institutions of formal education: edubba Education included writing and mathematics Tuition paid for education Educated were privileged elite: government officials, scribes, etc. Deciphering Cuneiform 1835: Henry Rawlinson, an English army officer, found some inscriptions on a cliff at Behistun in Persia. Carved in the reign of King Darius of Persia (522-486 BC), they consisted of identical texts in three languages: Old Persian, Babylonian and Elamite. Nippur Flood Tablet ...a flood will sweep over the cult centers; To destroy the seed of mankind... Is the decision, the word of the assembly of the gods. By the word commanded by An and Enlil... All the windstorms, exceedingly powerful, attacked as one, At the same time, the flood sweeps over the cult centers. The tablet can be dated by its script to the late 17th century BC. University of Pennsylvania After, for seven days and seven nights, The flood had swept over the land, And the huge boat had been tossed about by the windstorms on the great waters, Utu came forth, who sheds light on heaven and earth, Ziusudra opened a window on the huge boat, The hero Utu brought his rays into the giant boat. Enheduanna, Priestess and Poet, the world’s first known writer: Enheduanna’s Inscription Here are the first 4 lines of cuneiform: 1) en-he-du-an-na.....................En-he-du-ana, 2) MUNUS.NUNUZ.ZI.............zirru priestess 3) dam-nanna........................... wife of the god Nanna, 4) dumu-...................................daughter The inscription continues: 5) sarru-GI............................ of Sargon, 6) [ lugal]............................... [king] of 7) KIS................................... the world (Kish), 8) e-INANNA.ZA.ZA............. in the temple of the goddess 9) uri.KI-ma-ka...................... Inanna- ZA.ZA in Ur, 10) bara-si-ga........................ made a socle and 11) bi-e-du 12) bara bansur-an-na...........named it: 'dais, table of 13) mu-se bi-sa......................the god An'. Were Egyptians the first scribes? The earliest writing ever seen may have been discovered in southern Egypt. The hieroglyphics record linen and oil deliveries made over 5,000 years ago. The exact date of Sumerian writing remains in doubt but the new Egyptian discoveries have been confidently dated to between 3300 BC and 3200 BC using carbon isotopes EARLY DYNASTIC PERIOD Dynasties 1 & 2: ca. 3100-2700 bce The culmination of the formative stage of the Ancient Egyptian civilization that began centuries before during the Prehistory Goal to gain stable, superior status in Mid-East Establishment of divine kingship as Egypt's form of government Writing evolved from a few simple signs to a complex system of several hundreds of signs with both phonetic and ideographic values. Craftsmen increased their skills and experimented with the use of more durable materials. Structures built in brick, wood and reeds were copied in stone, giving birth to the typical Ancient Egyptian architecture. Palermo Stone A dark stone containing information from the early dynasties. It is inscribed on both sides with a list of kings from Pre-Dynastic Egypt to the middle of the 5th Dynasty. The exact creation date is not known, the earliest possible date being the middle of the 5th Dynasty. Egyptian Hieroglyphs Hieroglyphs were called by the Egyptians "the words of God" and were used mainly by the priests. The painstakingly drawn symbols decorated the walls of temples Hieratic script was used for conducting day to day business Hieroglyphs are written in rows or columns and can be read from left to right or from right to left. The direction in which the text is to be read is indicated by the human or animal figures which always face towards the beginning of the line. The upper symbols are read before the lower. History of Hieroglyphs Rosetta Stone, 196 bce 30th century BCE: The hieroglyphic system is developed. 500 BCE: A slow revolution of hieroglyphic writing starts, as new signs are introduced. The number of available signs in the system grows over the centuries from around 700 to several thousands. 394 CE: The date of the last case of hieroglyphic writing. 1799: The Rosetta Stone is discovered, which contained the same text in two languages (Egyptian and Greek), and in three writing system (hieroglyphic, demotic and Greek). 1822: The French scientist JeanFrancoise Champollion completes the decipherment of the hieroglyphs. History of Hieratic Script Around 2750 BCE: First examples of hieratic script. Around 2000 BCE: Writing direction changes from vertical to horizontal read from right to left Around 600 BCE: Demotic script replaces hieratic script for use with secular writing. Hieratic continued to be used for religious texts. Around 100 CE: Last examples of hieratic script. Hieratic Script Developed from the hieroglyphic system. Hieratic comes from Greek denoting "priestly", since it was used only for sacred texts in the last 1000 years of its existence. Hieratic script was used in carved or painted inscriptions, normally written in ink with a reed pen on papyrus. Hieratic script lasted for about 3200 years, but was through the last 1000 years challenged by demotic script. Hieratic script was taught in school, while hieroglyphs were only understood by a small minority of priests in the society. History of Demotic Script 660 bce: First known example of demotic script. 5th century bce: Demotic script is in use all over Egypt. Beginning 4th century ce: Demotic script is starting to be replaced by Greek writing. 425 ce: Last known example of demotic script. Demotic Script Demotic script lasted for about 1000 years, during the last period of ancient Egyptian history. The term "demotic" comes from the Greek word for people, or popular. Demotic script was used for business and literary purposes, while hieratic was used for religious texts. Demotic was the most abbreviated and cursive script developed by the ancient Egyptians Most demotic texts were written in ink on papyrus. It was also written on wood or linen or carved in stone or metal. Who were the Phoenicians? Phoenicians, Canaanites & Punic/ Carthaginians are the same people: Eastern Canaanites were called Phoenicians by the Greeks & Western Canaanites were called Punic by the Romans. The Phoenicians called themselves Canaanites, and they were the descendants of two groups, the early Canaanites who inhabited the coast of Lebanon, and the Sea People who invaded Lebanon about l200 bce. Economic opportunity and population pressures led them into the Mediterranean Sea where they became great traders and colonizers The Phoenician alphabetic script of 22 letters was used at Byblos as early as the 15th century bce Phoenicia Phoenicia is a term which was applied by classical authors to the city-states northern Lebanon from 1200 BC onwards. Their main cities were Tyre, Sidon and Byblos on the coast of Lebanon The Greek word from which 'Phoenicia' derived meant 'purple', and was a translation of the name 'Canaan' . Canaan which may have had some linguistic connection with the purple dye produced from local murex shellfish for which the region was famous Phoenicia http://phoenicia.org/ http://www.cedarland.org/phoenicia.html http://www.lebanon2000.com/ph.htm The Sea Peoples • The Phoenicians were the best seafarers and ship builders of the ancient world. • The famous Lebanese cedar trees covering the slopes of mountains of their native land was a perfect material for construction of strong seaworthy ships. • The Phoenicians are credited with the division of a circle into 360 degrees and having reliable celestial reference points. • The earliest evidence for Phoenician ships comes from an Egyptian tomb relief of around 1400 BC at Thebes which shows Phoenician ships unloading in an Egyptian port. Cedars of Lebanon: Egyptian connection As far as back as 3200 B.C., the people of Gebeil (Byblos) were cutting down cedar trees in the mountains of Lebanon, to be shipped to Egypt and Mesopotamia for use in building ships and making columns for houses. The Phoenicians brought back gold, copper, and turquoise from the Nile Valley and Sinai. Canaanite ceramic pieces have been found in Egyptian tombs dating back to 2999 B.C. Legend has it that an Egyptian pharaoh hired a band of Phoenicians to map and circumnavigate the coast of Africa. Phoenician Writing The 1st inscription reads: "Wall built by Abibaal, king of Byblos, for Baalat-Gebel, his lady. May Baalat-Gebel prolong the days of Abibaal and his years over Byblos." The 3rd inscription reads: "Wall built by Shipitbaal, king of Byblos, son of Elibaal, king of Byblos, for Baalat-Gebel, his lady. [May] Baalat-Gebel prolong the days of Shipitbaal and his years over Byblos." [The red line indicates the presumed location for `Shipitbaal'.] Phoenician alphabet The Phoenician alphabet consisted of twenty-two symbols, all consonants. Each one represented its own sound. The Egyptian symbol for the ox head was given the Semitic name aleph and was sounded as "a." The Phoenician alphabet was used to form the other alphabets which followed it. Aleph became the Greek alpha, Beth became beta. In time, these letters became the Latin letters A and B, etc. The written language inscribed on papyrus, a type of paper made of reeds. So, closely linked with papyrus with the city of Byblos (which traded cedar for the paper) that when the writing of the Hebrew prophets were translated into Greek the city's name was given to the great book- Biblia: the Bible. Phoenician alphabet Cadmus’s gift to the Greeks “The Phoenicians who came with Cadmus … introduced into Greece, after their settlement in the country, a number of accomplishments, of which the most important was writing, an art till then, I think, unknown to the Greeks. At first they used the same characters as all the other Phoenicians, but as time went on, and they changed their language, they also changed the shape of their letters. At that period most of the Greeks in the neighborhood were Ionians; they were taught these letters by the Phoenicians and adopted them, with a few alterations, for their own use, continuing to refer to them as the Phoenician characters - as was only right, as the Phoenicians had introduced them. “ Herodotus, The Histories Writing in China The origins of Chinese writing are obscure and debated. Some believe that the principle was borrowed through the trade routes from Sumeria to China--which would be an example of stimulus diffusion. Many believe that the ancient Chinese hit upon the writing principle completely independently. The earliest known form of true writing in China dates from the Shang dynasty, 1200 bce-1045 bce, dates considerably later than for Sumerian writing. But it is entirely possible that pictographic signs had begun to be used as sound symbols in China long before that. Ancient pictograms and ideograms came to be used to denote syllables of sound rather than to depict concepts. Shang Dynasty 16th-11th c. bce Shang Dynasty Central Yellow River Valley Oldest examples of Chinese writing Hunters and farmers Brilliant bronze culture casting of intricate ritual vessels tools Cities Cheng Chow (16th c. bc) Anyang (C. 1384-1111 bc) Oracle Bones • Oracle bones used for divination. • A question was written on the bone, which was then fired and a T shaped crack was produced to be interpreted; the interpretation was then written on the bone. • After the predicted event occurred, the date of the occurrence was also written on the bone. Astronomy and Calendar Oracle bone with record of solar eclipse Ox bone inscribed with a table of the Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches Writing in the Americas The oldest discovered examples of writing in the Americas are a cylinder seal and carved greenstone plaque bearing glyphs dating to ca. 650 bce, uncovered near the Olmec center of La Venta in Tabasco, http://www.anthro.fsu.edu/ Mexico. Key aspects of the Mesoamerican scripts research/meso/PohlPR.html were present in Olmec writing: the combination of pictographic and glyphic elements to represent speech, the use of the sacred 260-day calendar, the connection between writing, the calendar, and kingship Writing spread from La Venta to other parts of Mesoamerica, where the Maya developed the Olmec prototype into the New World's most sophisticated script Olmec ca. 1200-300 bce Olmecs Established the first major Mesoamerican civilization. Often regarded as the Mother Culture of later Middle American civilizations,the Olmec people called themselves Xi First to use stone architecturally and sculpturally Clever mathematicians and astronomers who made accurate calendars Highly developed technical skills magnetic compass skill with iron ores complex drainage system First writing in North America Olmec Glyph This plaque records the story of creation. It shows the World Tree sprouting out of Creation Mountain Olmec influence on Central-American Civilizations Art Religious symbolism Hieroglyphic writing Bar and dot numbering system Calendar Bloodletting ritual Ball game MAYANS Although there was never such a thing as a Maya Empire, the diverse peoples and politico-religious formations that in the past occupied Yucatán and modern day Belize, Chiapas, Guatemala and Honduras, all had common cultural characteristics: a highly developed calendar a rich complex writing system, and sophisticated mathematics.. Archeologists and historians recognize several periods in the history of these cultures: Preclassic 2000 bce-100ad Classic 100 -900 ad Postclassic 900 ad-1500 ad Mayan Hieroglyphics The unit of the Maya writing system is the glyphic cartouche, which is equivalent to the words and sentences of a modern language. Maya cartouches included at least three or four glyphs and as many as fifty. There is no Maya alphabet. Writing considered to be a sacred gift from the gods. Knowledge of reading and writing was jealously guarded by a small elite class, who believed that they alone could interact directly with the gods Glyphs representing, from left to right: the sky an ahau (king) a house a child the city of Palenque. The Maya wrote using 800 individual signs or glyphs, paired in columns that read together from left to right and top to bottom. Maya glyphs represented words or syllables that could be combined to form any word or concept in the Mayan language, including numbers, time periods, royal names, titles, dynastic events, and the names of gods, scribes, sculptors, objects, buildings, places, and food. Maya glyphs were also painted on codices made of either deer hide or bleached fig-tree paper that was then covered with a thin layer of plaster and folded accordionstyle. Codices Recorded rituals, chronologies, myths and important events. Most were burned by the Spanish during the 16th c. 4 Extant Codices: Dresden, Madrid, Paris, Grolier Popul Vuh Book of Council Sacred book of Quiche Maya Lords of the great kingdom of Quiche had a way of seeing what could not be seen with the physical eye. Their guide was Popul Vuh, a book that could allow the lords to know past and future events. The book speaks of occurrences before the first sunrise.