7 Ekim 2010 Perşembe

From Prehistory to History 4: Early Scripts and Ancient Languages


Script vs. language
Cuneiform (nickname)
Syllable/syllabic script to decipher a script
Epigraphy (Inscriptions)
Palaeography (manuscripts)

Why was writing invented?
Urban Scale of Organization
Collection, storage and redistribution of surplus on a very large scale
Requires control mechanism  to prevent unauthorized access and declare ownership
Requires accounting techniques to ‘remember’ amounts and material

Earliest Written Signs Around 3000 BC
pictures of objects from economic transactions= sheep, grain, fish, cattle, jars of oil
One sign(picture) per object, numeric signs as well

Mesopotamia invents writing on clay tablets

Early writing has no language
Early writing is ideographic, often mnemonic (shopping list)
How do you write about ideas, feelings, anything you cannot draw a picture of?
How do you write verbs, grammar, language?

REBUS Principle
Example that works in EnglishBelief= bee + leaf
The sound value of a sign is recognized
This step is the phonetization of writing:
you begin to use the sound of wordseach sign now conveys a syllable
Writing invented by Sumerians, Sumerian has many mono syllable words,
meaning changes by adding suffixes

Result: Cuneiform Writing
Cuneiform: nickname given to Mesopotamian script= wedge shaped
No connection between visual sign and the meaning of the sound that it represents
Combination of syllabic writing with some ideograms
Problematic part: leads to a lot of signs!!!

Egyptian Hieroglyphic Writing
Hieroglyph: ancient Greek designation for ancient egyptian script,
ta hieroglyphica means ‘the sacred carved (letters)’
In principle similar to cuneiform system= syllabic way of writing
Remains confined to Egypt and Egyptian 
Mostly preserved inscribed on stone/wood/faience
Writing on papyrus invented in Egypt, writing used is hieratic,
an adaptation of hieroglyphic script to cursive and fast reproduction

Alphabetic Writing
Next development in systems of writing: one sign per one sound (consonant or vowel)
Decreases  the  number of signs significantly to ca. 30
Seems to have been stimulated by egyptian hieroglyphic writing 
Earliest signs encountered already in Sinai (Searbit al Khadim, carved by miners at the turquoise mines)