Introduction: Early Writing

 

While continuous writing conveying a message started in Syria, Sumer or Highland Iran ca. 3500 BC, single symbols, glyphs, marks representing names, places, tracks, gods, etc. are much older. It all possibly started in Australia, ca. 40-50,000 years ago with paintings, rock carvings, chanting and symbols, representing maps, rituals and divination. Apart from Australia, the 4 earliest major river valley civilisations, represent the earliest symbols and writing from 4th millennium BC onwards, as mentioned in the introduction.

Some examples of each of these are listed, supplied with the earliest examples from Europe and the Americas. Since numbers and counting developed before writing, from ca. 8000 BC on, Collection 9 should be consulted as well.

The alphabet was invented in Israel/Palestine/Lebanon about 1700 years after the first continuous writing, and it took another 1000 years before it reached Europe's outskirts. Examples of Proto-Sinaitic/Proto-Canaanite and Ugaritic alphabetic writing and the earliest known Greek alphabet are listed below.