How Writing Came About

How Writing Came About

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Winner, Top 100 Books on Science, American Scientist, 2001 In 1992, the University of Texas Press published Before Writing, Volume I: From Counting to Cuneiform and Before Writing, Volume II: A Catalog of Near Eastern Tokens. In these two volumes, Denise Schmandt-Besserat set forth her groundbreaking theory that the cuneiform script invented in the Near East in the late fourth millennium B.C.-the world's oldest known system of writing-derived from an archaic counting device. How Writing Came About draws material from both volumes to present Schmandt-Besserat's theory for a wide public and classroom audience. Based on the analysis and interpretation of a selection of 8,000 tokens or counters from 116 sites in Iran, Iraq, the Levant, and Turkey, it documents the immediate precursor of the cuneiform script.

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Product details

  • Paperback | 207 pages
  • 175.26 x 251.46 x 12.7mm | 430.91g
  • University of Texas Press
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • English
  • Abridged
  • Abridged
  • 27 b&w photos, 18 line drawings, 3 maps, 5 tables, 42 pages of charts
  • 0292777043
  • 9780292777040
  • 481,406

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Review quote

"Discoveries in the history of writing are rare, but Denise Schmandt-Besserat made one in realizing that phonetic writing in the West descends not from pictography, a view repeated everywhere, but from abstract, nonphonetic, mostly noniconographic accounting tokens used in Neolithic farming communities of the Near East beginning from about 8000 B.C. A condensation of volume I of Before Writing ...this book is a perfect production, utterly lucid, thoughtfully illustrated, and thoroughly convincing." American Journal of Archaeology

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Back cover copy

In 1992, the University of Texas Press published Before Writing, Volume I: From Counting to Cuneiform and Before Writing, Volume II: A Catalog of Near Eastern Tokens. In these two volumes, Denise Schmandt-Besserat set forth her groundbreaking theory that the cuneiform script invented in the Near East in the late fourth millennium B.C. - the world's oldest known system of writing - derived from anarchaic counting device. How Writing Came About draws material from both volumes to present Schmandt-Besserat's theory for a wide public and classroom audience. Based on the analysis and interpretation of a selection of 8,000 tokens or counters from 116 sites in Iran, Iraq, the Levant, and Turkey, it documents the immediate precursor of the cuneiform script.

show more