The art of writing is clearly one of the most important intellectual tools discovered by man. Writing enables people to keep records, codify laws, and transmit knowledge from one generation to another. We do have evidence of some earlier attempts at writing but it was the Sumerians who developed the art in an efficient form. Their language was pictographic -- each sign was a simplified picture of an article that the scribe had in mind. Eventually the scribes reduced the complexity of a pictographic system by combining several pictures into one.
Sumerian texts were written on clay tablets by using a reed stylus pressed into wet clay -- the resulting wedge-shaped marks are called "cuneiform" (from the Latin cuneus, "wedge-shaped").
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copyright © 2000 Steven Kreis