Although complex societies followed the development of agriculture in many locations, only a handful of them independently developed literacy. Name 5 places that independently invented a form of nonverbal recorded language. For each, briefly describe what kind of symbolism was used.
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It may be necessary for you to consult the text and/or notes for your class in order to answer this question because sources I have seen do not say that writing was independently invented in five different places. Instead, writing is said to have arisen independently only three times. In other places, writing systems were developed, but only through borrowing from places that had already invented writing on their own.
The first place where writing was invented was Sumer, in what is called Mesopotamia. This is in the area where Iraq is now. Sumerians invented a type of writing known as cuneiform. The word “cuneiform” means “wedge-shaped.” Sumerian writing has that name because it was “written” using reed styluses to press shapes into clay. In Sumer, the writing started as pictographs, in which writers essentially try to draw symbols that look like the words they represent. However, Sumerian writing gradually changed to the point where symbols were used to represent sounds in the language.
The second place where we know that language was invented independently was Central America. In early Central American writing, the symbols were used to represent either single letters or syllables. China is the only other place where writing is believed to have been invented independently. Chinese writing was similar to Sumerian in that it started out as pictographs and then gradually evolved to the point that each character in Chinese writing corresponds to a sound or a syllable.
Historians do not believe that writing was independently invented by any other people. If you are supposed to find five places, you will need to look in your own class materials and see what other writing systems you are supposed to discuss.
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