What is the origin of writing?

What is the origin of writing?
6 min read
29 October 2022

It is assumed that the first inventors of writing were the Sumerians, who inhabited southern Mesopotamia. The first writing code appeared there in the year 3100 before Jesus, and shortly after writing was invented again almost 1600 kilometers away, in Egypt. In this article, from OneHowTo.com we will explain the origin of writing, read it carefully. Writing is one of the supreme creations of man. The wonderful thing is that, although with different signs, it appeared in different peoples and times. But he always had the transcendent mission of saving human thought and transmitting it to future generations.

The origin of writing

About the years 100,000 to 40,000 BC, man developed language, about 30,000 years BC he began to paint the first pictographs in the caves of Western Europe.

3000 years BC the first writings appear in Sumer (Asian Mesopotamia), later the Egyptians appeared whom we consider the fathers of writing.

Writing in Egypt

It seems that the Egyptians took the idea of ​​writing from the Sumerians, since there was contact between the two cultures; but the symbols used by both were completely different. In addition, the Umerians wrote on clay or mud tablets, while the Egyptians engraved their drawings and signs on monuments or drew them on pots or papyrus rolls, a kind of paper made with fibers from a plant that grows on the banks of the river Nile.

Writing in Arabia

Around the year 2500 writing was invented among the Elamites, who occupied the lands that now form Iran; and almost simultaneously it arises in the valley of the Indus River, to the North of India, in what is today Pakistan.

Writing in Asia and America

Meanwhile, in the Yellow River Valley, the Chinese people were also inventing writing. The Incas were the only ones in the world to develop a splendid civilization without knowing writing. The registers and population census that allowed them to control their extensive empire were maintained by means of a system of knotted ropes called quipos that served as writing and calculations.

Multiple Origins of Scripture

There is no single origin of writing; was born independently in different parts of the world. It seems that the first people to write were the Sumerians and the Egyptians around 3500-3200 BC. It is not clear which of these two peoples invented writing first, although it seems that Egyptian writing had some Sumerian influence and not the other way around. They were peoples who had known agriculture for some thousands of years and who felt the need for a system of notation for agricultural products. Usually sovereigns impose taxes on their own items such as agricultural products. They use these resources in order to pay for the construction of palaces and temples, to maintain the army, court officials, the court, etc. Also in commercial exchanges people felt the need to be allowed to book goods.

The same is true for the offerings that were brought to the temples. The invention of writing was closely followed by many other Neolithic innovations, such as the construction of cities, the use of bronze, the invention of the wheel, the potter's wheel, and the weaving loom. In this period, agriculture and breeding spread and it was always more important to be able to indicate goods and people in the documents and account in business operations.

History of writing summary

If what you need is a brief history of writing summarized, read on, since you will find it in the form of a timeline (timeline) or chronology. This way you will not miss any historical milestone or important event:

  • Year 30,000 BC C.: the oldest known cave paintings have this age. It is the first form of expression of the human being, on the walls of the caves.
  • Years 5000 to 4000 a. C.: the first cylindrical seals appear, which are a way of identifying merchandise by engraving various signs on soft clay tablets by rolling them.
  • Years 3400 to 3200 a. C.: the oldest tablets found with cuneiform inscriptions in the city of Uruk, shortly after, appear in other cities of Sumeria. Early Egyptian hieroglyphs.
  • Year 3000 BC C.: first numbers considered as such, at sites in Susa and Uruk. The Elamites who live in the area of ​​Iran and whose capital is Susa develop their own Pro-Telamite writing system under Sumerian influence.
  • Year 1900 BC C.: first manuscripts in the Indus Valley.
  • Year 1800 BC C.: Probable origin of a Proto-Semitic alphabet in Egypt by workers from the Middle East, who were inspired by hieroglyphs to build a simpler language.
  • Year 1700 BC C.: Chinese writing begins to develop during the Shang dynasty, from an earlier system probably born in 6000 BC.
  • Year 1600 BC C.: some of the writings found in Bogazkfoy, capital of the Hittite kingdom, belong to this time. These are the royal archives, in which different languages ​​are mixed, although Akkadian predominates, which integrates the Sumerian syllabic system.
  • Year 1400 BC C.: the proto-alphabet invented in Egypt by the workers returns with them to Canaan and mixes in Byblos with their own syllabic language.
  • Year 1300 BC C.: appearance of the first complete alphabet in Ugarit. It only remains for the Phoenicians to perfect it and for the Greeks to put the vowels on it.


In case you have found a mistake in the text, please send a message to the author by selecting the mistake and pressing Ctrl-Enter.
wasim tariq 113
Joined: 2 years ago
Comments (0)

    No comments yet

You must be logged in to comment.

Sign In / Sign Up