Ancient Scripts: Writing Systems

It is generally agreed that true writing was invented independently between two and five times in the ancient world. It is universally agreed that writing was developed independently in at least two places: Mesopotamia (specifically, ancient Sumer) and Mesoamerica. It is debated whether writing was developed completely independently in Egypt and China, or whether the appearance of writing in either or both places was due to cultural diffusion (i.e. the concept of representing language using writing, if not the specifics of how such a system worked, was brought by traders from an already-literate civilization). Similar debate surrounds the script of the Bronze Age Indus Valley civilization in Ancient India, with the additional provisos that the script is still undeciphered and that there is debate over whether the script is true writing at all, or some kind of proto-writing or non-linguistic sign system. An additional possibility is the undeciphered rongorongo script of Easter Island; again, however, it is debated whether this system is true writing at all, and if it is, whether it is yet another case of cultural diffusion of writing.

The first Indian script, developed in the Indus Valley around 2600 B.C. is still not fully deciphered. Thus, it is still not possible to fully understand this civilization, as we have no readable records of their Later Indian scripts, like Brahmi and Kharosthi, which were developed to write both official and local languages. Great epics, royal inscriptions, religious texts and administrative documents were all written using these scripts. Through these sources we are able to learn about the literature, mythology, history and beliefs of ancient India.


Writings From the Ancient World (16 vols.) - Logos …

Eventually, though, around 1900 B.C.E, this prosperity came to an end. The integrated cultural network collapsed, and the civilization became fragmented into smaller regional cultures. Trade, writing, and seals all but disappeared from the area.


Ancient Indian Civilization - TimeMaps

Chinese characters are probably an independent invention, because there is no evidence of contact between China and the literate civilizations of the Near East, and because of the distinct differences between the Mesopotamian and Chinese approaches to logography and phonetic representation.
Egyptian script is dissimilar from Mesopotamian cuneiform, but similarities in concepts and in earliest attestation suggest that the idea of writing may have come to Egypt from Mesopotamia. In 1999, reported that the earliest Egyptian glyphs date back to 3400 BC, which “…challenge the commonly held belief that early logographs, pictographic symbols representing a specific place, object, or quantity, first evolved into more complex phonetic symbols in Mesopotamia.”

10 Ancient Civilizations That History Forgot - Listverse

Similar debate surrounds the Indus script of the Bronze Age Indus Valley civilization in Ancient India (3,200 BC). In addition, the script is still undeciphered and there is debate over whether the script is true writing at all, or instead some kind of proto-writing or non-linguistic sign system.

most of what we know about them comes from the writings of other ..

A Harappan unicorn seal, dated 2400 B.C., from the ancient Indus Valley civilization that spread across part of what is now modern India and Pakistan

Ancient Writings tell of UFO visit in 4000 BC

The invention of writing was not a one-time event, but a gradual process initiated by the appearance of symbols, possibly first for cultic purposes. Canadian researchers from the University of Victoria suggest that symbolism was used by cave painters of the Neolithic Age. “…von Petzinger and Nowell were surprised by the clear patterning of the symbols across space and time – some of which remained continually in use for over 20,000 years. The 26 specific signs may provide the first glimmers of proof that a graphic code was being used by these ancient humans shortly after their arrival in Europe from Africa, or they may have even brought this practice with them. If correct, these findings will contribute to the growing body of evidence that the ‘creative explosion’ occurred tens of thousands of years earlier than scholars once thought.”