How Writing Came About

How Writing Came About

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Description

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.show more

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
  • 653,419

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 *show more

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

Table of contents

PrefaceIntroduction: Tokens, a New Theory The Myths The Pictographic Theory Tokens Part One: The EvidenceWhat Are Tokens? Types and Subtypes Evolution from Plain to Complex Materials Manufacture The Token Collection under StudyWhere Tokens Were Handled and Who Used Them Types of Settlements Distribution within Settlements Structures Token Clusters Containers Holding Tokens Associated Assemblages Tokens as Funerary OfferingsStrings of Tokens and Envelopes Strings of Tokens EnvelopesImpressed Tablets Number Context Chronology Description The Signs Beyond the Impressed Tablets: Pictography The Meaning of Signs and Their Corresponding Tokens The Place of Impressed Tablets in the Evolution of WritingPart Two: The InterpretationThe Evolution of Symbols in Prehistory Symbols and Signs Lower and Middle Paleolithic Symbols Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic Symbols Neolithic Symbols A Turning Point in Communication and Data Storage Tokens: The Socioeconomic Implications Reckoning Technology and Economy Reckoning Technology and Social OrganizationCounting and the Emergence of Writing The Various Modes of Counting The Sumerian Philological Evidence The Near Eastern Archaeological DataConclusions: Tokens, Their Role in Prehistory and Their Contribution to Archaeology Economy Political Structure Mathematics CommunicationPart Three: The Artifacts ConesSpheresDisksCylindersTetrahedronsOvoidsQuadranglesTriangles BiconoidsParaboloidsBent CoilsOvals/RhomboidsVesselsToolsAnimalsMiscellaneousNotesGlossaryIndexshow more

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22 ratings
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5 36% (8)
4 36% (8)
3 18% (4)
2 9% (2)
1 0% (0)
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