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Composition in the Humanities, How has humanitys use of the Written Word Evolved Over Time - Research Paper Example

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How has humanity’s use of the written word evolved over time? The first known use of writing comes from the area of the world known as the “fertile crescent” which surrounds the two main river deltas of the Nile and the Euphrates. (Historyworld website)…
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Composition in the Humanities, How has humanitys use of the Written Word Evolved Over Time

Download file to see previous pages... As they prospered due to plentiful food and water they had a growing tendency to use surpluses to build impressive and complex cities for trade and emerging industries. It is thought that these complex city societies invented writing in order to help them keep track of their goods and property, and of their business deals. The Sumerians took the material that was most plentiful in that area, and one that they used to make the bricks that built their homes: the clay from the delta. Another plentiful commodity was the reeds which grew by the water and these were sharpened so that they could be used to make small marks in the clay. The distinctive wedge shaped format of the reed stem is what gave its name to this earliest form of writing: cuneiform. The clay tablets that cuneiform was written on were very cheap to produce. They could also be left to harden in the sun, or in an oven, so that they became more permanent records, and they proved very popular because of this. The system of writing depended on tiny symbols being used to represent items in the real world. These early symbols were called “pictograms” because they were mini pictures that recalled the sounds or shapes of things in the world. (Harry Ransom Center Website). Archeologists have found vast libraries of these cuneiform tablets, containing laws, literature, and huge numbers of lists and business records. One of the disadvantages of clay are that it is brittle and liable to cracking and breaking, which makes it a risky medium for permanent records. The Egyptians solved this problem by carving their most important writing onto permanent stone monuments. Their writing is called “hieroglyphics” which means “scared carving” (Harry Ransom Center Website) and it had much more elaborate pictograms which resemble birds, animals and objects which are recognisable even today. Stone is extremely heavy, and it takes a very long time to carve, and so the Egyptians also looked for lighter, cheaper and more flexible ways to record everyday things. They used a kind of plaster on walls, and painted onto that with colored pigments, and they also invented papyrus, which is a type of processed reed that could be made up into a light and flexible surface. The design of the scroll, which allows the the papyrus to be rolled up into a tube, made transportation and storage much easier. Depending on the purpose of the writing, Egyptian scribes used three different scripts: “there is one, the most formal, for religious documents; one for literature and official documents; and one for private letters.” (Historyworld website) In other parts of the world such as central and northern Europe, America and China there were different geographical conditions. Societies here developed their own methods of writing using local materials. Manuscripts of the finest quality were produced in the ancient period and right through the middle ages using the scraped skins of animals, called parchment or vellum (University of Michigan Library website). Scripts such as Latin and Greek moved away from pictograms and into a system using a stylized alphabet based on sounds, which could be written speedily. Germanic tribes lived in areas with huge forests, and so they chose a simple script based on straight lines that could be carved on wood. In China rice paper was invented for painting and writing. These systems could be written left to right, right to left, and in a ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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