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by Archaeology Newsroom

The birth of writing

The appearance of writing in the eastern Mediterranean (Mesopotamia and Egypt) was the result of a social-economic evolution. The “invention” of agriculture around 8.000 BC brought along with it a social-economic revolution on which society as we know it is based even today. It caused the creation of the first settlements and, later,that of cities, the appearance of craftsmen (potters and silversmiths) and of the class system in its first form . The fact that man, for the first time, was accumulating “capital” – in the form of food – which was administered by a political-religious centre, palace and priesthood, contributed to this evolution. In order that this administration might operate, an accounting system became necessary from which writing derived. Consequently, writing was not a natural but a cultural phenomenon. It appeared in Mesopotamia and Egypt in the 4th millenium BC in the form of ideograms and phonograms. The phonetic alphabet of the Phoenicians originated from phonograms and was solely based on consonants.The Greeks completed this alphabet by adding vowels and created, thus, the first “modern”alphabet from which the Latin and the Slavic alphabet is derived.