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Mesopotamia

The Fertile Crescent  |  Civilization  |  The Sumerians  |  Numbering Years
Writing  |  Hammurabi  |  The Assyrians  |  Cool Mesopotamia Links

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Pictographs and Phoenetic writing

     Ancient Sumerians record keepers marked A clay tablet containing cuneiform text.pictographic symbols in soft pieces of clay with a pointed reed. The clay tablets were then baked to make them hard. We call the Sumerian's writing system cuneiform. Cuneiform means wedged shaped, because the marks in the clay were wedges.

     The first pictographs were simple. A writer would draw an object like a fish or a broom to communicate to others. This system worked well in a simple society but it would be difficult to describe justice or liberty in pictographs. Many Chinese people continue to use a pictographic system today, but the government has endorsed the Pinyin system of phonetic writing.

     Eventually, most cultures developed phonetic writing systems where a symbol represents a sound rather than an object. English speaking people, agree that the symbols D-O-G refer to an animal. English, French, Spanish, German and Russian are examples of phonetic languages. Phonetic languages make small typewriters and computer keyboards possible. Imagine a different key for every single word!

The development of writing allowed civilization to develop.

  • Writing allowed people to keep records of their transactions.
  • People could send messages with couriers to far away lands without traveling.
  • Writing allowed people to pass on their accumulated knowledge to future generations.

The Fertile Crescent  |  Civilization  |  The Sumerians  |  Numbering Years
Writing  |  Hammurabi  |  The Assyrians  |  Cool Mesopotamia Links


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