The Sumerians: Writing

The Sumerians were the first civilization to create written records and therefore the inventors of writing.

The above image was swiped from wikipedia. It shows the progression of “head” as the sumerians developed their writing system over the course of 2000 years.

They used this new concept to record inventory at first. They started off using pictographs (simplified drawings that stand for words). They would scratch their pictographs into soft clay tablets with a stylus and let the tablets harden. Because of these clay tablets, we have thousands of documents from nearly 5000 years ago. These pictographs were written and read from right to left and from the top down.

Over a series of approximately 2000 years, their pictographs developed into cuneiform. By 2600 BCE, these cuneiform characters were developed enough to express complex sentences and ideas.

The language was so well developed, that the Sumerians were able to produce great literature. If you’ve ever taken an English or literature class, or you’ve taken mythology, you’ve probably heard of the Epic of Gilgamesh?

Sumerian. And it’s all thanks to their ancient innovation of writing.


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