A History of the World in 100 Objects

Writing tablet from Mesopotamia (c 3100-2900 BC) found in Uruk III.

There’s an very interesting series of programmes on BBC Radio 4 at the moment called “A History of the World in 100 Objects“. The objects come from the British Museum and one of recent programmes discussed an ancient Mesopotamian writing tablet, like the one on the right, from about 3,000 BC.

They talk about the invention of writing, and how it was used almost exclusively for record keeping and accounting at first, and that written literature only developed later.

The tablet in question is a record of workers’ daily beer rations – workers were paid in beer as this was before the invention of money.

By the way I’m planing to add a page or two to Omniglot about the history and development of writing, and maybe a chronology as well.

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This entry was posted in Language.

4 Responses to A History of the World in 100 Objects

  1. Corcaighist says:

    Väga huvitav raadiosaade, Simon. Aitäh sulle!
    Clár raidió an-shuimiúil, a Simon. Gura maith ‘ad!

  2. An excellent idea. A page on writing. An-mhaith. Starting with the I Ching?

  3. TJ says:

    Just a point to mention about the new addition last Sunday. I think the dialect is better called “Syrian Arabic” instead of “Syriac,” since the latter is mainly registered to something else.

    Just a note, that the Arabic title in that page says also “Al-Lahjah”; meaning “the dialect”. I’m sort of pleased for this title since it is not called as a language by itself as some others do (or try to do).

  4. Tommy says:

    I wonder what kind of work they were doing to get paid in beer?

    I also like the idea of a page on writing. If you need to do any assistance researching Japanese writing, let me know!