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How did the written word spread?

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posted on Dec, 1 2009 @ 12:24 PM
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This is something that has always bugged me. If the first actual form of writing was created in mesopotamia after the land bridge had been covered by the sea, then how did ancient native american cultures come about with their own writing system? Was there just a collective concience that said, ok, lets write this down or something? This thought just poked into my head again as I was thinking about how well ancient mayan cultures were able to "predict" the movements of the heavens so far in advance and so far in their history. Do you believe that there could be an even older form of writing out there that hasnt been discovered?

I realize that wiki says:
In Eurasia writing began as a consequence of the burgeoning needs of accounting. Around the 4th millennium BC, the complexity of trade and administration outgrew the power of memory, and writing became a more dependable method of recording and presenting transactions in a permanent form. In Mesoamerica writing may have evolved through calendrics and a political necessity for recording historical events.

en.wikipedia.org...

But honestly, knowledge, in my experience, spreads from one source to another. It very, very rarely comes about just by chance twice, on two seperate sides of the earth without communication to do so. And if the mesoamerican form of writing came about as said above, then why wait so long? The same for eurasian forms of writing? If there were established trading routes by 4k BC, then why wait so long to come up with a form of writing stuff down? Maybe, because I have grown up with writing all my life it would seem important to record something some how other than just verbally and I cant wrap my head around it. But why then, and in two seperate places on earth at slightly different times? Could somebody have traveled from Eurasia to the Americas before Columbus and the vikings and spread the written word? Or do you think that it was just a coincedence?




posted on Dec, 1 2009 @ 12:37 PM
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Well, I believe all writing started as drawings, then moved on the hieroglyphics, then on to things such as cuniform as was used in Eurasia and the like. it's a natural simplification that takes place (ideally) in any such system. Surely the hunters would paint their conquests and hunts on the walls randomly in the world and it progressed from there.

As for the speed of transmission of writing, well there is the language barrier that would have been tricky back then, especially the further you go from your start point. Also take into account human nature - if one group already HAS their own language and written word, they are not likely to just drop it and pick up someone elses, even if it is better (they are usually forced to later though, one way or another).

i dunno, i'm gonna read up on it a bit and get back to you. S&F!



posted on Dec, 1 2009 @ 12:56 PM
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I would guess that in early history you had tribal areas ran by chiefs. Each area ran by seperate chiefs. Chiefs orders were easily spread in tribal areas by word of mouth "The chief said". As time went on chiefs conquered other chiefs areas and took it for themselfs. As the area of there rule grew you ended up with central cities of the king and he ruled large kingdoms they found it difficult to spred word by simple word of mouth and used symbols to give meaning. Take indians with smoke sybols to comunicate with other tribes near by. Even the Chinese used smoke sybols to communicate where troops were need to defend the Great Wall of China when it was attacked. But then when kingdoms were as big as Myan, Egyptian or even the Chinese empires they needed more than simple symbols or smoke signals to communicate the commands of there leader. And hyroglyphs or more complicated symbols were created and probly kept secret to there meanings for security. But all secrets get leaked over time and spread to create different writing styles. And I would guess religion probly first widely spread the use as they wrote books of there beliefs and spread those beliefs far and wide with there scrolls meant to be read by all in order to fill the pockets of the churchs with tithes from followers far and wide. Then you had wars because religions didn't stop at the boundaries of the kingdom they came from. So you have kingdoms fighting to promote there own religion to other kingdoms. Thats where you see in history so many religious wars being fought. Very few kingdoms fought from that point on for land just hearts and minds through crusades and destruction of religions. Then the religious warriors began to threaten the kingdoms due to religious armies being larger than the kings and you have the governments fight the religious orders to maintain there comtrols over the people Of there kingdoms. The king demands templars be killed. Egytpian ruler demanding the Isrealites be destroyed and batteling over which God to worship.

[edit on 1-12-2009 by JBA2848]



posted on Dec, 1 2009 @ 12:57 PM
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Necessity created the need for a written word.

and the needs varied from group to group...but there is an inventor
in every group, clan, tribe,...way before any group gets as large as a society



posted on Dec, 1 2009 @ 01:30 PM
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I have a son who has never been able to read or write because of intellectual problems and he does all the supermarket shopping for this family.

As my son can't remember everything, he has invented his own language of pictograms. I tell him what to buy and he quickly scrawls down his pictogram for each item. At first he would draw 6 apples if he needed 6. . Then he started simplifying successive pictures of the same item until he was just drawing one, and adding a circle for each successive one. Next I showed him how to write numbers, so now, for 6 apples, he will draw one with x6 beside it.

One day at work he wanted to do a presentation during a meeting to show a better way to manage seedlings. (He works in a plant nursery set up to employ handicapped workers.) The "bosses" didn't want him doing that, so they explained people couldn't give talks unless they wrote it all up on a blackboard too.

He said, "fine, I can do that," and gave his talk, illustrating each step he'd worked out with pictograms.


What I'm trying to point out is that written communication is a basic human need, and begins in humble ways. We will never know when writing started, all we can know is when it started being done in a way that would be preserved.



posted on Dec, 1 2009 @ 01:35 PM
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on paper.

not one line.



posted on Dec, 1 2009 @ 01:37 PM
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reply to post by dizzie56
 


Well, I would have to assume that writing, like spoken language, is somewhat innate. From a linguistic standpoint, language is a lot like walking or crawling in that it is instinctive. There is obviously a social aspect of language, but humans are hardwired to use language. The written word could certainly have evolved from early art (I think someone already pointed that out).

I know everybody always likes to talk about the Maya as an ancient civilization of mesoamerica, but you cannot forget about their predecessors. The Olmec were around way before the Maya and probably gave rise to Mayan culture, etc.



posted on Dec, 1 2009 @ 02:23 PM
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Writing, if you think about it, may be much older than we realize. Writing, at its very simplest is just an encoding if information for decryption at a later time. When a lion marks his territory, technically he is writing. An early form of "I was here", if you will. Certain apes mark their territories by ripping bark from trees. The research that I've seen on proto-sumeran langauge indicates that early phonemes in that type of system weve intrinsically tied to their meaning. "MMM" means water, "AA", of "AB", means father, the earliest words according to them, were to discribe the simplest of ideas, mostly nouns. Similarly, the earliest form of writing would have to be drawings, of anything really. Humans, naturally really, complecate everything, out of necessity. Long, long ago when the first ape-man drew a circle, and his ape-man friend pointed at the sun, and they grunted to agree that this is an excellent representation of the sun, writing was born. All further complication and refinement, I believe, was borne of the necessity to express as many things (nouns) as possible. Later as human cognition evolved charachters representing ideas became useful as well. And as to the spreading of this idea of the written word. Well, it should be obvious how useful such an art is. Its being widespread is clear.



posted on Dec, 1 2009 @ 03:45 PM
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Originally posted by dizzie56
Or do you think that it was just a coincedence?


Not coincidence exactly, just independence in development. The human brain is hard wired for symbolic representation. It's probably no more mysterious that writing developed in multiple cultures around the world as did art, music, religious speculation, etc.



posted on Dec, 1 2009 @ 03:56 PM
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I also agree with the "it comes from necessaty" theory but I really wonder why it came about within such a close range of each other and if it is out of necessaty, then why hadnt other cultures come up with their own written language earlier. I understand the fact that the real first form of writing is the cave paintings, if you will. Somebody long ago drew a picture in likeness of something else in existence. Not to discount that, but I dont view it as a "higher" skill, if you will, compared to the alphabets of ancient times. I would really like to know what ultimately brought about the change from drawing a likeness of something to spelling it out phonetically or useing hieroglyphics or pictograms to represent more than just nouns and actually tell a story and why didnt it happen everywhere.

I can see why it would happen in places like central america and eurasia. Basically the two bigger trading routes or even travelling routes if you will. If you want to go south from north america you must travel thru this skinny point of land. The same vice versa. And its the same for mesopotamia, there really isnt another hospitipal way than to stick by the mediteranian coast. I could see where with all the people stopping thru those points and either staying or moving on, there could be some form of written language adopted. But at the same time, there were other trade routes along other areas that the cutlures didnt have written languages yet.

How about the eastern united states region that was settled by the Iroquoi and the Algonquian. This region had lots of trade with other tribes as evidence of wampum making its way to the Great Plains indians. Why then, wouldnt they make a written language to record their rich history until after europeans showed up? Surely, there were people smart enough and had enough imagination to come about with a written language, so why didnt they. The necessaty was probably there as much as the indians of central america.

And also, why did written language come about at about the same time (relative to man being on this earth)? Was there just an extreme population where these peoples coudnt cope any more with remembering things and needed to write it down? How much bigger would the population have to be in a settlement that would create a necessaty for a written language.

In response to Kailassa, I understand your son not being able to read or write english and having to come up with his own way of doing things but he had to come up with his own way of doing things in order to present something to his bosses where there is allready a written language in place. Im talking about not having a written language in place what so ever other than drawing a creature that you hunt for food or the sun that gives light to the world. Your son does this out of necessaty to keep up with the world and he does it in his own way where as somebody coming up with their own written language where there was none is far more advanced. There was no real need to form a complete written language with nouns and verbs in ancient times if it was for accounting purposes only. They could have just done like your son and draw 6 apples or what have you. Instead, they wrote out who owes them six apples, why he owes them, where the guy came from and where he was going and when he would be back with the apples.



posted on Dec, 1 2009 @ 04:16 PM
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A point back everything and everyone was planted into their position to start up the world by a higher power. And that higher power made the lives minds sync with doing so, so that it all blended well to the point no one knew they got planted and had been given a sync of sorts of their own histories. It worked down to the very written word.

Just maybe.

[edit on 1-12-2009 by Tormentations]



posted on Dec, 1 2009 @ 05:18 PM
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Originally posted by dizzie56
. . . .
In response to Kailassa, I understand your son not being able to read or write english and having to come up with his own way of doing things but he had to come up with his own way of doing things in order to present something to his bosses where there is allready a written language in place. Im talking about not having a written language in place what so ever other than drawing a creature that you hunt for food or the sun that gives light to the world. Your son does this out of necessaty to keep up with the world and he does it in his own way where as somebody coming up with their own written language where there was none is far more advanced. There was no real need to form a complete written language with nouns and verbs in ancient times if it was for accounting purposes only. They could have just done like your son and draw 6 apples or what have you. Instead, they wrote out who owes them six apples, why he owes them, where the guy came from and where he was going and when he would be back with the apples.


That's very true, Dizzie, but you know what humans are like. Once a few people are doing something one is bound to add or improve something.

Imagine a wise-woman, back in cave-man days, showing another woman how to count off the days till giving birth by making markings on the cave wall. Perhaps the first written numbers came from women keeping track of their cycles and pregnancies. Male archaeologists would never figure these out because they tend to overlook the presence of "women's stuff."

It's logical, as caves can be ideal for food storage, that while the men were off hunting, the women would not only be finding edible plants and small animals, they'd be drying and storing them. A record of what was being stored would be helpful, so they'd most likely invent a pictograph record to show what was in storage.

I'm emphasising the women here as women, (who survived childbirth,) lived longer than men and lost their fertility earlier, leaving them free to concentrate on helping the tribe as a whole. Women have larger language centres in the brain and would have had the opportunity to develop written communication.

Once something starts, one person will add something, another will improve something, and language evolves much as living organisms do.

In Sumaria and several other cultures women had a written language of their own, not used by the men.
en.wikipedia.org...

In Hunan province, China, women had their own written language until quite recently.
twistedstitches.net...

It's thought to have been invented 1,000 years ago by a royal concubine in order to communicate with her family. However if that was the case her family would not know what it meant, so I suspect it's actual origin was much more ancient.

Language follows thought, but in turn, thought follows language, making more complex language possible. Language enables people to co-operate in more complex societies, which give birth to new culture and inventions, creating a requirement for more complex language.

It only took one little step to snowball into the huge changes which set us apart from other animals.



posted on Dec, 2 2009 @ 09:11 AM
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Originally posted by Tormentations
A point back everything and everyone was planted into their position to start up the world by a higher power. And that higher power made the lives minds sync with doing so, so that it all blended well to the point no one knew they got planted and had been given a sync of sorts of their own histories. It worked down to the very written word.

Just maybe.

[edit on 1-12-2009 by Tormentations]


Kinda takes away that whole free-will argument doesnt it?



posted on Dec, 2 2009 @ 09:17 AM
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Originally posted by Kailassa

Language follows thought, but in turn, thought follows language, making more complex language possible. Language enables people to co-operate in more complex societies, which give birth to new culture and inventions, creating a requirement for more complex language.

It only took one little step to snowball into the huge changes which set us apart from other animals.



Yes, but what was that first little step and why didnt it become more widespread or happen more? It spread to other communities from Eurasia and Central America, but why didnt it spread to the majority of North America or even southern Africa for that matter? Why didnt those communities have the same spark to create a written language of their own? They most undoubtadly had the very same problems as the rest of the world and the need for a written language would be present just as much there as anywhere so why wouldnt something be invented in other regions?



posted on Dec, 2 2009 @ 10:03 AM
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Originally posted by dizzie56


...why didnt it spread to the majority of North America or even southern Africa for that matter?
Why didnt those communities have the same spark to create a written language of their own? T
hey most undoubtadly had the very same problems as the rest of the world and the need for a written language would be present just as much there as anywhere so why wouldnt something be invented in other regions?



written language is only a form of communication...

written language was only needed when the volume of information needing recorded made it necessary.

north american tribal groups which moved with the seasons were able to communicate all the information they required without needing to write symbols on a transportable medium. I believe the French were the one's to put maps on animal skins up there in Canada, (ala' Last of the Mohegians epic)

the native inhabitants did not use 'maps' because their word & story 'pictures' were a better way to communicate every nuiance revelent to the route & destination, which the 'Map' does not convey to the reader of the Map.

How many other 'uncivilized' cultures the world over, do not have a written language begun by their ancestors? ~ i'd guess All of them, that's why there are people sent out as Missionaries ~



posted on Dec, 3 2009 @ 09:33 AM
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Originally posted by dizzie56[/]

Yes, but what was that first little step and why didnt it become more widespread or happen more? It spread to other communities from Eurasia and Central America, but why didnt it spread to the majority of North America or even southern Africa for that matter? Why didnt those communities have the same spark to create a written language of their own? They most undoubtadly had the very same problems as the rest of the world and the need for a written language would be present just as much there as anywhere so why wouldnt something be invented in other regions?


Do you know anything about the Ku#es?


The KU#E peoples are the inventors of Hieroglyphs for which Egypt (a.k.a. KMT , TA-MERI, MIZRAIM ) is renown. With the decline of their famed 25th Dynasty, they migrated to the region known as NUBT ( a.k.a. TA-NUHUSI , TA SETI , KUSH- modern Northern Sudan ). Here they improved this form of written language creating another form - the Egyptian Hieroglyphs. Though it is very different to that of the later period of KUSH , this language was used from the earliest periods by the Ku#e founders of the empire of K'MT ( aka Mizr,Ta-Meri / Egypt ).

nefertamu.tripod.com...



Ancient Africa: Meroe, by Sarah Wood, Spring 2002

Around 1050 BC, Egypt’s dominion over Nubia came to an end. It was not until approximately 900 BC that a new power subjugated this territory and for no less than 1000 years determined its history. This power, called the Kingdom of Napata and Meroe is also known as the Kingdom of Kush. The Kingdom of Kush is divided into 2 periods, the Napatan Period lasting until 270 BC and the Meroitic Period existing from the fall of that kingdom toward the year 320 AD.

Today we can say, with some certainty that the ruling class in the Kingdom of Kush was not made up of Egyptian or Libyian immigrants, as we had frequently assumed in the past. Names of the royal family as well as high ranking officials and priests, prove that they belonged to the people whose language became the written language of the Meroitic Period. We call them “Meroites”. In addition, the custom of matrilinear succession and the development of royal tomb installations reveal that the social and cultural traditions of the ruling class were derived not from the Egyptians but from the peoples of the Upper Nile Valley.

web.ics.purdue.edu...


Ethiopia also had written language very early on.

Africa has not always been the purposefully dumbed down group of warring countries we see now. It was a great continent which imported many respected scholars to Europe.



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