Invention of Writing and Alphabet

It all began with cave paintings, as a form of visual communication, and petroglyphs, rocks with drawing and craving that have been left behind by prehistoric people. Pictographs, pictorial signs and symbols, were used on most petroglyphs to represent ideas and concepts. By the time of Mesopotamia, pictographs evolved into a more abstract form called cuneiform. Once Mesopotamia fell to the Persians, writing has passed on to Egypt and Phoenicia. Instead of using cuneiform like the Sumerians, the Egyptians maintained a picture-writing system called hieroglyphs, where constructed pictures represents sounds. Soon, scribes were simplifying hieroglyphs to quick drawn gestures for hieroglyphic book handwriting.

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Lascaux Cave
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Sumerian pictograph
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Cuneiform
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Egyptian Hieroglyphs

The true inventor of the alphabet still remains a mystery. Some of the possibilities were the Minoan/Cretan Pictographs, whose pictographic and alphabetic form were similar to the early alphabet, and the North Semitic alphabet, commonly known as the Phoenician alphabet. It is believe the early alphabet branched into Phoenician and other directions. The Phoenician alphabet, regarded to be the historical beginning of the alphabet, was formed from absorbing the cuneiform and hieroglyphic. Later on, the Phoenician alphabet has evolved in Greece, Rome, and, later, into Aramaic writing. The Aramaic alphabet is the predecessor of hundreds of scripts, including Modern Hebrew and Arabic. With its descendant, the Aramaic alphabet branched towards the East. In Greece, their alphabet was adapted from the Phoenician; however, instead of writing right to left, the Greek changed the writing direction to left to right which still continues today. After the Romans captured Greece, the Latin alphabet arrived to Rome where the Romans added Y and Z to the alphabet. J, V and W weren’t added to the alphabet until the Middle Ages. When Rome fell, the Western World used its alphabet, for it became the design form of the visible language.

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Phaistos disk with Minoan/Cretan Pictograph
www.phoenician.org
Phoenician alphabet
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