Rare African script offers clues to the evolution of writing
The world’s very first invention of writing took place over 5000 years ago in the Middle East, before it was reinvented in China and Central America. Today, almost all human activities — from education to political systems and computer code — rely on this technology.
But despite its impact on daily life, we know little about how writing evolved in its earliest years. With so few sites of origin, the first traces of writing are fragmentary or missing altogether. …
“The original inventors were inspired by dreams to design individual signs for each syllable of their language. One represents a pregnant woman, another is a chained slave, others are taken from traditional emblems. When these signs were applied to writing spoken syllables, then taught to new people, they became simpler, more systematic and more similar to one another,” says Kelly.