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The protoliterate period of Egypt and Mesopotamia is taken to span about 3500 to 2900 BC. The Kish tablet is thus more accurately identified as the first document of the Mesopotamian protoliterate period. Several hundred documents dating to about the 32nd century BC have been found at Uruk.
Bone and ivory tags, pottery vessels, and clay seal impressions bearing hieroglyphs unearthed at Abydos, 300 miles south of Cairo, have been dated to between 3400 and 3200 B.C., making them the oldest known examples of Egyptian writing.
As ever in archaeology, new excavations bring new challenges to address, new questions to answer, and new problems to solve. Will the present date of 3200 B.C. for phonetic writing in Egypt be confirmed by subsequent work? Are the dates for Mesopotamian writing-solely based on the stratigraphy of one deep sounding of the site of Uruk-too conservative? Hopefully, Egyptology will be able to find out more about the circumstances that surrounded and led to the development of phonetic writing. Finally, it will be of great interest to resolve whether the Egyptian and Sumerian scripts came about independently, or if, after all, they had ties?