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Tokens, Tablets and Writing
Human writing has been traced back ten millennia to tokens, dating from 8000 BC. Early farmers used tokens of various shapes to record numbers of animals sold and quantities of grain owned. Those tokens led to writing.
About 6600 BC, Chinese were carving signs into tortoise shells.
About 4500 BC, records were kept in Mesopotamia, now Iraq.
By 3500 BC, tokens in new shapes recorded more information. For instance, they held data about such items as garments, jars of oil and areas of land.
By 2500 BC, scribes in Sumria were recording information in cuneiform writing. The symbols written in cuneiform were more efficient at communicating. When those cuneiform scribes engraved wedge-shaped marks in groups on clay tablets and in stone, they took a major step toward our modern writing system.
By 2300 BC, stones were inscribed in the ancient lands of Central Asia where the future Silk Road would traverse near the even further in the future city of Ashgabat in what is now Turkmenistan. Literate civilizations also were in China, Mesopotamia, Iran, and the Indus River Valley.
By 300 BC, black hieroglyphs were painted on white stucco plaster and stone by Mayans in a pyramid complex in the Peten jungle of northern Guatemala near the future town of San Bartolo. Other writing in the region dates to 600 B.C. in Mexico's Oaxaca valley.
To see ancient writings:
Sumeria Cuneiform »To learn more:
Egyptian Hieroglyphics »
Indus Script »
Chinese Inscriptions »
MesoAmerican Writing »
'Earliest writing' Found in China BBC, 2003 »
Ancient writing found in Turkmenistan BBC, 2001 »
'Earliest Writing' Found in Pakistan BBC, 1999 »
Were Egyptians the First Scribes? BBC, 1998 »
The Power of Writing National Geographic Magazine, 1999 »
Oldest Chinese Characters Ever Found Xinhua News Agency, 2000 »
Chinese Archaeologists Find Oldest Chinese Writing AAST, 2001 »
Oldest American Writing Found in Dump Nature, 2002 »
Earliest Maya Writing Found in Guatemala, Researchers Say National Geographic, 2006 »
Earliest known Mayan writing found in Guatemala Reuters, 2006 »
Earliest Mayan writing found in pyramid MSNBC, 2006 »
Who Began Writing? New York Times $, 1999 »
Egyptian Inscriptions Indicate Earlier Date for Alphabet Origin New York Times $, 1999 »
The Archaeology of Writing CVAS, 2000 »
Ancient Scripts ancientscripts.com »
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