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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Ancient Scripts

Script is any special system of writing or written means of human communication. In the West, writing begins 4,000 years ago in Sumeria and the Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh is a surprising example of what the written word can produce. The Sumerians considered writing a gift from the god Enlil, as later, the Babylonian would also claim from their version of Dev Nabu. The script originated as a means of communicating the language spoken over long distances by trade. As the cities grew in Mesopotamia, and the population expanded, more goods were needed that could not be obtained locally. Long-distance trade was, therefore, made available to the people of Mesopotamia through necessities or luxuries (such as lapis lazuli). In time, this original form of communication, which began as lists of goods, evolved into a more sophisticated means of expressing thoughts and feelings, and eventually became the script in which the literature of culture was established.
The same pattern of script usage is seen in other ancient cultures. In ancient Egypt the Thoth God (not surprisingly, the patron deity of the scribes) produced the script. "Thoth" was viewed as skilled in magic and turned into the benefactor of all scripture all through the nation. Thought appears in the Horus legends and was depicted in every age as a deity who 'loved truth and hated abomination' (Bunson, 264). This association of the scribe with the scribe with the truth remains a continuation in other cultures.
In China, during the Shang dynasty (1600–1046 BCE), at the time of the script's commencement, around 1200 BC. Questans were engraved in an animal's turtle or bone shell and then exposed to intense heat. The resulting cracks in the shell or bone will provide the disabled with an answer to the question. However, this answer came not from the mortal monster, but from the divine realm and thus, it was irrefutable truth. From this beginning, the script evolved into a written expression of the spoken language of China, which, once set, became true, as determined by Sima Qian or a writer as to the truth of historical events transactions of court or merchants.

In Greece, writing begins with Myceneaen civilization and the only partially perceptible linear B script of crate. The Linear A script, which was the written language of the Minoans of Crete, remains unalterable. The written language, which originated in Mesopotamia, spread first to Egypt and then to other areas including Crete and then Phoenicia. The alphabet of most modern languages   originated in ancient Phoenicia and first arrived in Greece shortly before the 8th century BCE, from where it spread. Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, written around the 8th century BCE, are early examples of the Greek use of the Phoenician alphabet, such as the classics Theogony and Works and Days by Hesiod.

This art of script will come to produce some of the most meaningful pieces of writing in the history of the world. Letters written by the people of Mesopotamia, Egypt, from the epic of Gilgamesh to the hymn to Enheduanna, the Egyptian Book of the Dead, Homer's great Greek epic, the Mahabharata of India, Virgil's Aeneid and, more humbly, Mesopotamia. In China, Greece, India, Rome, and all other nations of the ancient world, the script has communicated the most important, the most heroic, and the most practical and basic, aspects of the human condition.

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