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The First Writing : Script Invention as History and Process - Stephen D. Houston

The First Writing

Script Invention as History and Process

By: Stephen D. Houston (Editor)

Hardcover

Published: 13th December 2004
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Over 5,000 years ago the first writing began to appear in Egypt and Mesopotamia. Later still, ancient scripts flourished in China and Mesoamerica, with secondary developments in places such as Scandinavia. Drawing on top scholars, The First Writing offers the most up-to-date information on these systems of recording language and meaning. Unlike other treatments, this volume focuses on the origins of writing less as a mechanistic process than as a set of communicative practices rooted in history, culture, and semiotic logic. An important conclusion is that episodes of script development are more complex than previously thought, with some changes taking place over generations, and others, such as the creation of syllabaries and alphabets, occurring with great speed. Linguists will find much of interest in matters of phonic and semiotic representation; archaeologists and art historians will discover a rich source on administration, display and social evolution within early political systems.

'Most of the specialist scholars included here are eminent in their fields, and the whole beautifully produced volume will be of interest to all those studying early civilizations.' Bryn Mawr Classical Review

List of figures and tablesp. ix
List of contributorsp. xviii
Orientation and Theory
Overture to The First Writingp. 3
The possibility and actuality of writingp. 16
Writing systems: a case study in cultural evolutionp. 39
Case Studies of Primary and Secondary Script Formation
Babylonian beginnings: the origin of the cuneiform writing system in comparative perspectivep. 71
The state of decipherment of proto-Elamitep. 100
The earliest Egyptian writing: development, context, purposep. 150
Anyang writing and the origin of the Chinese writing systemp. 190
Writing on shell and bone in Shang Chinap. 250
Reasons for runesp. 262
Writing in early Mesoamericap. 274
Epilogue
Beyond writingp. 313
Final thoughts on first writingp. 349
Referencesp. 354
Indexp. 395
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780521838610
ISBN-10: 0521838614
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 436
Published: 13th December 2004
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 25.5 x 18.3  x 3.2
Weight (kg): 0.89