The invention of writing was an important part of the development of Sumer and Egypt. There are many similarities and differences to the writings of each of these civilizations.
The Sumerians developed a writing called cuneiform. Cuneiform is the oldest written language in existence. Each picture represents a living or nonliving thing.
Cuneiform was written on clay tablets with a wedge-shaped instrument called a stylus. Henry Creswicke Rawlinson was the first person to decipher the meanings of cuneiform. He did so in 1846. Cuneiform eventually spread throughout the region and was adopted by many other early civilizations.
The Egyptians developed a writing that they named hieroglyphics. The word hieroglyphic means ?sacred inscriptions? because they were often written on the walls of temples. Hieroglyphics were created about 5000 years ago. There are not any vowels, only consonants. There is also no punctuation.
In 1799, the Rosetta Stone was discovered. The Rosetta Stone was the secret to discovering the meanings of hieroglyphics. On the Rosetta Stone there were three sections of print, each saying the same thing but in different languages. At the top, the paragraph was written in hieroglyphics. Second, it was written in Demotic. Lastly the paragraph was written in Ancient Greek. By reading the ancient Greek word and names, the other paragraphs could be deciphered. Twenty-three years after it?s discovery, Jean-FranVois Champollion figured out what the hieroglyphics meant. Hieroglyphics are pictures that represent a letter.
In both civilizations, mostly only scribes knew how to read and write. Being a scribe was a very honorable profession. People who were to become scribes went to school for many years starting at a young age. The profession of being a scribe was passed down through families; if a boy?s father was a scribe, he would become one also.
Because children needed to be taught to read and write when they were to become scribes, schools were created. Eventually, these schools became more than centers of just learning the art of reading and writing, but they also became centers of learning of botany, astronomy, medicine, and mathematics.
People becoming more literate and more knowledgeable helped greatly in the development of the civilizations. Both writings, cuneiform and hieroglyphics, were invented to improve the record keeping of the civilization. By having a written language, Egypt and Sumer could kept records, draw up contracts and official documents, record laws and legal judgments, and record sales. As time went on, being able to write also enabled people to write down formulas, procedures, legends, prayers, and hymns.
Even though there were many differences between cuneiform and hieroglyphics, there were many similarities. These similarities caused writing to be important in the growth of Sumer and Egypt.