The people of the ancient world developed writing to record trading deals. It soon became not only a useful tool, but also a source of knowledge and power. The oldest known script is that of the Uruk culture of Mesopotamia and dates to 3500 B.C. It began with small sketches of trade objects, which-shaped script, easy to cut in wet clay with a sharp reed. This useful skill gradually spread to other kingdoms, although not all used cuneiform. The Indus civilization of South Asia used a pictographic script, again mainly for trade. The Egyptians probably got the idea of writing from Asia, but from c.3000 B.C. created their own complex pictographic scripts A little before 1000 B.C., The Phoenicians invented a standardized alphabet of 22 characters to keep business records. Greek traders adopted this, adding vowel. Later still, the Romans developed the alphabet, loosely based on the Greek version, that we use in the West today. Other forms of writing were independently invented elsewhere. In China, a pictographic script was created during the Shang Dynasty, and was used on "oracle bones" for divination purpose. In the New World, the Maya created their own pictographs, showing no resemblance to any other known script, to record astronomical lore and royal dynasties.
Cuneiform is the earliest fully developed system of writing known. No exact date can be ascribed for the invention of cuneiform writing but scholars know that it existed earlier than 3500 B.C. Credit for this great invention probably belongs to the Sumerians, a Mesopotamian people who spoke neither an Indo European nor a Semitic Language, but an agglutinative form of speech. However, some scholars' doubt that the Sumerians were responsible for this achievement and it is uncertain the system was invented.
Cuneiform writing was composed of pictograms, primitive forms representing easily recognizable images, such as objects, animals and human beings. Because it was difficult to draw pictures on clay, early in the course of the development of cuneiform it was gradually, simplified and became groups of abstract signs and thoughts. These signs resembled nails and wedges, thus giving its name to cuneiform writing (from the Latin word cuneus, meaning nail).
The main writing material of the Sumerians was clay, exposed to the sun or backed in a kiln to make more durable. After clay had been used as a writing material for many centuries, the Sumerians discovered that characters could be drawn much better and more quickly by impressing them rather than by scratching them in the clay. The main tool used for writing was a calam, a sharpened stylus made of reed or wood.
The standard direction of writing was from left to right, so the writer using his right hand would not smudge his last inscription. The characters that were impressed on the clay tablets thick on the top and on the left, this is what laid the foundation for the wedge shaped symbols found later in Sumerian culture. The users of cuneiform called the symbols fingers.
One of the downfalls of this type of writing was that there were over 1800 symbols to memorize. But the scholars of this time found a way to cut this number in half. They did this by making up symbols to put before or after a pictographic symbol telling the reader how it should be used, instead of using many different symbols.
The Sumerians represented the dominant cultural group in the Middle East for more than 1300 years, during which they produced vast and highly developed literature, myths, and epics all written in cuneiform. Tens of thousands of other documents written in cuneiform have survived to be found today.
Hieroglyphics, is a form of writing used by ancient Egyptians. This kind of writing uses picture symbols that represents ideas and sounds. The word hieroglyphics comes from two Greek words that mean sacred carving.
The ancient Egyptians used hieroglyphic writing for more than 3000 years. Hieroglyphics were used mainly for religious inscriptions on temple and stone monuments and to record words and deeds of royalty. Ancient Egyptians often called their writing the words of God.
The Ancient Egyptians borrowed the idea of hieroglyphic writing from the Sumerians about 3000 B.C. The earliest hieroglyphs consisted of pictorial characters known as pictographs. These characters were a direct representation of ideas. Egyptian