Category Archives: Rating: 5 “Whoa!!”

Old Persian cuneiform — 525 BC?, Iran

The earliest Old Persian cuneiform we know of is in a stupid-huge trilingual inscription in Old Persian, Elamite cuneiform, and Babylonian cuneiform (basically well-aged Akkadian cuneiform).  The inscription, at Behistun, Iran, is 15m by 25m, 100m up the side of … Continue reading

Posted in Alphabet, Rating: 5 "Whoa!!", Syllabaries | 2 Comments

Zero — various times, various places

When I was a little girl, I thought the concept of zero had always been with humans, sort of like food and pain and sky.  When I got a bit older, I learned that zero had been discovered/invented rather recently … Continue reading

Posted in Numbers, Rating: 5 "Whoa!!" | Leave a comment

Greek — 800 BC, Greece

Greek legend says that a Phoenician, Cadmus, brought writing to the Greeks.  This is not hard to believe, as the earliest Greek glyphs look very similar to Phoenician.  However, the Greek alphabet had something from the beginning that no other … Continue reading

Posted in Alphabet, previous script didn't quite work, Rating: 5 "Whoa!!" | 9 Comments

Phoenician — 1050 BC, Lebanon

Phoenician descended from Proto-Sinaitic and is the ancestor of the writing systems used by the vast majority of people today.  Greek, Latin, Aramaic, Arabic, and Hebrew are its children and grandchildren, with its influence spreading as far as the Pacific … Continue reading

Posted in Abjad, Rating: 5 "Whoa!!" | 8 Comments

Ugaritic — 1400 BC?, Syria

Have you ever wondered why the English alphabet is ordered “A, B, C…”?  Who decided that A should be first, then B, instead of e.g. S and then D?  Well, we don’t know who came up with that ordering, but … Continue reading

Posted in Abjad, Rating: 5 "Whoa!!" | 5 Comments

Cypriot — 1500 BC?, Greece

Try to find out when Cypriot script started, and the answer you get differs wildly depending upon the source. In part, this reflects differing opinions about whether they consider the writing system on early artifacts to be Cypriot or not.  … Continue reading

Posted in Rating: 5 "Whoa!!", Syllabaries | 2 Comments

Luwian hieroglyphics — 1400 BC, Turkey

Luwian hieroglyphics — also called Anatolian hieroglyphics or (incorrectly) Hittite hieroglyphics — do not seem to be stylistically related to any other language, so it is likely this writing system was invented by the Luwians, although they pretty certainly knew … Continue reading

Posted in Logograms, Rating: 5 "Whoa!!", Syllabaries | Leave a comment

Cretan hieroglyphics — 1500 BC?, Greece

There is an artifact, a clay tablet called the Phaistos disc, that was found in Crete with unusual signs on it.  The signs have not been deciphered, but they look logographic in that each symbol is easy to recognize as … Continue reading

Posted in Rating: 5 "Whoa!!", Undeciphered | 3 Comments

Elamite cuneiform — 2200 BC, Iran

Linear Elamite petered out after a few hundred years, ignored in favour of more prestigious languages/writing systems like Babylonian (which was an organic descendant of Akkadian in both language and script).  When the Elamite language reappeared after a few hundred … Continue reading

Posted in Logograms, Rating: 5 "Whoa!!", Syllabaries, technology influenced | 1 Comment

Quipu — 3000 BC?, Peru

The Incan empire was very large, very powerful, lasted for a very long time, yet had no writing system — apparently.  This seemed odd. However, even the conquering Spaniards recognized that the Incas did have a way of storing accounting … Continue reading

Posted in developed by illiterate(s), first in its area, Rating: 5 "Whoa!!" | 1 Comment