Essay PreviewMore ↓
The phenomenon of writing has been invented independently five separate times in the history of man. While History textbooks almost exclusively talk about the writing of Mesopotamia and Egypt, writing has also been developed in the Indus Valley, China, and Mesoamerica. This strange phenomenon has led many historians and anthropologist to conclude that writing is necessary for a complex society to exist. Nevertheless, there was a society located in the Andean Mountain in present day Peru in which writing was never invented yet it is still consider complex or, in other words, a civilization. This civilization, instead, used a method of record keeping that functioned in place of writing. This suggests that although there is a strong correlation between the development of a civilization and writing, it does not necessarily mean that writing is one of the causative factors in its rise. However, a record keeping system is crucial to a society's evolution towards complexity.
One civilization that developed writing was the Sumerians in Mesopotamia which is located in present day Iraq. The Sumerians impressed wet clay with the end of a reed leaving a wedge-shaped form. This kind of writing on clay is called cuneiform, from the Latin "cuneus", meaning "wedge." Cuneiform owes its origins to the need arising from public economy and administration. With the rise in production of the country, accumulated surplus were sent to the cities. This necessitated a method of keeping account of all the goods coming into the cities as well as of manufactured goods leaving for the country. However before the first tablet was written, the Sumerians used an uncomplicated but inefficient system of recording transactions. It involved enclosing clay tokens signifying certain commodities and their quantities in a round clay object called a bulla. Seals of the individuals involved in the transaction were placed on the outside to validate the even. However to check the honesty of the deliverer, the bulla had to be destroyed to reconcile the goods with the tokens inside thereby destroying the record of the transaction as well. So to preserve the record, they impressed the tokens on the outside of the bulla before sealing them in. As time passed the bulla became the tablet and the impressions of tokens became symbolized by wedge-shaped marks. Eventually these marks came to denote distinct words and syllables of their spoken language. The purposes for writing also evolved.
How to Cite this Page
"The Rise of Civilization and Writing." 123HelpMe.com. 22 Jul 2018
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- This essay gives an overview of early civilization in China and the different periods within this era. Also, it includes political and cultural pursuits of the people within this time period and the struggles of the Asian peoples and their religious beliefs and community uniqueness and differences. Early on we see the emergence of civilization in China, where relatively isolated within geographical barriers, China’s early civilization developed with little contact with other cultures. During the Neolithic period, peoples living in environmentally distinctive zones—the Yellow and Yangzi River Valleys—mastered agriculture, animals became domesticated, the production of ceramics became more ela... [tags: Civilization in China]
2056 words (5.9 pages)
- Rise and fall of the Magan civilization The transition of humanity from simple life which based on living in villages with small group of people in the Neolithic to establish city states and then civilizations from the Chalcolithic and the beginning of the Bronze Age ,was a tremendous leap in the history of humanity.This transition led people to improve their knowledge and promoted them to be more creative. Therefore, many inventions and discovers were known during this period such as discovering copper and bronze metal , developing cultivation methods , using potteries’ wheel , using sails in the boats,innovating wheels, which were used in transportation and using animals power(Menon,2... [tags: World History]
2183 words (6.2 pages)
- Egyptians began to settle along the banks of the Nile River, Starting as far north as to the city of Alexandria all the way down south to Aswan. They developed into a well-structured society as Far East to the Red Sea and west to Dakhia, Oasis among many (Figure 1.). The Nile River reached far lending a hand in creating a well-known civilization that consisted of building pyramids and producing crops for their pharaoh. Evolving from hunters and gatherers into agriculturalists throughout history, Egypt has claimed to be one of the earliest and most spectacular civilizations of ancient times.... [tags: World Civilization ]
1206 words (3.4 pages)
- All the way from the start of civilization through to the Early Christianity there has been a pantheon of; destruction, recognition, wars, cultural diffusion, religious breakthroughs, laws that have been established, kings and queens crowned and dethroned. The Mesopotamian Civilization it was the land between two rivers the Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers that civilization first began. The rise of civilization in 3200 B.C. through 525 B.C That was an act of human creation of the Near Eastern river valleys of Sumer and Egypt.... [tags: War, Expansion, Settlement]
824 words (2.4 pages)
- ... The most common place for Maya writing were the books that they created out of bark paper and lime to make it white. They bound each book with deer hide. Only four books containing Maya writing that deal with astronomical and calendric matters. Popol Vuh, the Maya Bible is one of the surviving books. Like other Mesoamerican people, the Maya used a number system where the first nineteen numbers were similar to that of our English numbers. They contain unique symbols for numerals one through ten and eleven through nineteen is a combination of the symbols for one through nine combined with ten.... [tags: ancient peoples of the Americas]
1538 words (4.4 pages)
- There are many civilizations in history that contributed to the rise of modern day society. All of the things that we see today have been in some way shape or form improved upon to stand the test of time. From the structures of buildings, religion and pyramids, to the influence of art, it all played a part. The ancient civilization of the Egyptians was one of the most significant and well known cultures to ever have existed and technology wise, they were light years ahead. The ancient Egyptians relied heavily on their religion.... [tags: hieroglyphs, gods and pharaohs]
891 words (2.5 pages)
- ... These were ridges that were built on swampy terrain which were separated by the channels of water. This was a way to make the plants irrigated. The next great site, San Lorenzo, was built. This place is famous for the large basalt heads called “ Olmec Heads”. Also, there are two rows of man- made ponds which had fountains and drains possibly with sculptures around them. The “main drain” is seemed to be made of thirty tons of basalt. This darin flowed into a basin called a bird which was most likely used for ceremonial purposes.... [tags: rituals, sculptures, culture]
872 words (2.5 pages)
- Democratic EcoHumanism Market Civilization In an effort to dramatize his neo-Polanyian critique of neo-liberal global capitalism, Stephen Gill questions the tenability of his own term market civilization, proposing it as oxymoronic in that a market civilization qua the neo-liberal order contradicts Gill's view of civilization qua democratic eco-humanism (i.e. representation, civility, social well-being and inclusion). In this formation, Gill's argument is essentially circular in its reliance on his own subjective standard of civilization, (democratic eco-humanism), to prove the uncivilized nature of the neo-liberal order.... [tags: Papers]
2301 words (6.6 pages)
- The Rise and Fall of Civilizations Throughout World History Throughout our world history, we have seen many civilizations rise and fall, many where successful and many where not because of the way there leaders adopt their civilizations to the environment and the other power related problems. From the rise and fall of different civilizations you will also see different technology and inventions been develop and past on through generations, as well as different political organizations and cultures.... [tags: Papers]
1084 words (3.1 pages)
- The Greek's notion of rational thought is a very strong reason why Western Civilization has become so influential in the world today. During their time, the Greeks spurred an intellectual revolution. They questioned the meanings of life and began using their minds to expand the world. According to Glenn Blackburn: "In many ways, they "discovered" the human "mind" through their philosophy and rational thought [ . . . ]"(64). Their "opening" of the mind influenced all ways of life and society. Major ideas blossomed like politics, governing laws, literature, art, history, and new inventions.... [tags: Philosophy Ration]
1010 words (2.9 pages)
Another civilization that developed writing was the Egyptians. They had a similar system to the Sumerians in that both began as a pictographic form of writing. Hieroglyphics were used largely for religious purposes. The ancient Egyptian word for hieroglyphs means "language of the gods" indicating their importance. Priests used hieroglyphs to write down prayers, magical texts, and texts related to life after death and worshiping the gods. Moreover, many Egyptians had autobiographies and directions to the afterlife written in their tombs. Civil officials also used hieroglyphics to record historical events, and to document calculations, such as the depth of the Nile River on a specific day of the year. For everyday practical life, the Egyptian used two forms of cursive writing, first the hieratic and then the demotic. These two type of script were basically an abbreviate word-syllabic script based off of the hieroglyphic form. Little is known about the development of the hieroglyphics for they appeared in such a developed form that anthropologist and archeologists cannot see the full transition.
Writing , for these two civilization as well as the other three civilization where writing was present, served many important purposes. First, it helped to insure the continuity of the continuity of civilization by expediting the flow of information in an increasingly large and stratified society. Secondly, it facilitated administrative activities and enabled the further growth and canalization of the society. Finally, it crystallized and preserved cultural and bureaucratic traditions so that they outlive the hegemony of single rulers or dominant power-bases. However the Andeans in South America developed a highly complex society without a written language. They were very similar to the Egyptians and Sumerians in that they were a sedentary people that invented agriculture, pottery, weaving, metallurgy and domesticated animals. They also had full-time specialization of labor, a class structured society with a well-defined ruling class who held control over a concentration of surplus good and labor which they deployed towards their own ends and monumental "public" works. So how were they able to insure the continuity of their civilization without a tangible record? The answer is that they did in fact have a system of keeping records but it is not in a form that is immediately recognizable least likely decipherable.
The Andeans used a system of knotted cords, called the Quipu, that functioned as mnemonic devices to remember or rather record information. The concept is very similar to writing in that writing records data by using abstract symbols drawn on a surface which serve as mnemonic devices. Through the Quipus, they were able to encrypted detailed records of resources such as items that were need or available in storehouses, taxes owed or collected, census information, the output of mines, and the composition of work forces as well as important historical events.
It is because of the existence of the Quipu that many anthropologist are re-thinking the role of writing in the development of civilization. Instead of thinking in terms of writing, anthropologist are revising their view to a system of record keeping. Writing, after all is a method of recorded keeping in the broadest sense of the word. Therefore, despite the fact that writing has been a major influence in the development of five out of the six civilizations that first appeared on the face of the Earth, writing does not need to be present for a society to progress into complexity