Overview

In 1992, the University of Texas Press published Before Writing, Volume I: From Counting to Cuneiform and Before Writing, Volume II: A Catalog of Near Eastern Tokens. In these two volumes, Denise Schmandt-Besserat set forth her groundbreaking theory that the cuneiform script invented in the Near East in the late fourth millennium B.C.-the world's oldest known system of writing-derived from an archaic counting device. How Writing Came About draws material from both volumes to present Schmandt-Besserat's theory for...
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How Writing Came About

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Overview

In 1992, the University of Texas Press published Before Writing, Volume I: From Counting to Cuneiform and Before Writing, Volume II: A Catalog of Near Eastern Tokens. In these two volumes, Denise Schmandt-Besserat set forth her groundbreaking theory that the cuneiform script invented in the Near East in the late fourth millennium B.C.-the world's oldest known system of writing-derived from an archaic counting device. How Writing Came About draws material from both volumes to present Schmandt-Besserat's theory for a wide public and classroom audience. Based on the analysis and interpretation of a selection of 8,000 tokens or counters from 116 sites in Iran, Iraq, the Levant, and Turkey, it documents the immediate precursor of the cuneiform script.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Draws on the author's earlier works, "Before Writing, Volume I: From Counting to Cuneiform" and "Before Writing, Volume II: A Catalog of Near Eastern Tokens" to present her theory that the world's oldest system of writing derived from a counting device. Analyzes and interprets evidence of tokens and counters from the Near and Middle East, examining uses of the tokens, the evolution of symbols, and counting and the emergence of writing. Includes drawings of the tokens, and a glossary. For students. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
American Journal of Archaeology
Discoveries in the history of writing are rare, but Denise Schmandt-Besserat made one in realizing that phonetic writing in the West descends not from pictography, a view repeated everywhere, but from abstract, nonphonetic, mostly noniconographic accounting tokens used in Neolithic farming communities of the Near East beginning from about 8000 B.C. A condensation of volume I of Before Writing ...this book is a perfect production, utterly lucid, thoughtfully illustrated, and thoroughly convincing.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780292774865
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 9 MB

Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction: Tokens, a New Theory 1
Pt. 1 The Evidence
1 What Are Tokens? 15
2 Where Tokens Were Handled and Who Used Them 29
3 Strings of Tokens and Envelopes 39
4 Impressed Tablets 55
Pt. 2 The Interpretation
5 The Evolution of Symbols in Prehistory 89
6 Tokens: The Socioeconomic Implications 101
7 Counting and the Emergence of Writing 111
8 Conclusions: Tokens, Their Role in Prehistory and Their Contribution to Archaeology 123
Pt. 3 The Artifacts
Notes 159
Glossary 183
Index 185
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