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West Asian numbers – Ancient Mesopotamia

By |2018-04-15T00:37:53+00:00September 16th, 2017|Science, West Asia|

Neolithic counting tokens The earliest way of writing down numbers was to carve notches in tally sticks, and this method spread from Africa all over Europe and Asia. But by about 9000 BC, people in West Asia began to use a different method of counting. Instead of tally sticks, people made clay tokens in different shapes. The shapes meant different [...]

History of the Alphabet – West Asia

By |2018-12-08T07:56:03+00:00September 14th, 2017|Literature, West Asia|

Egyptian temple to Hathor at Serabit in the Sinai Early Writing Before about 1800 BC, all people in the world wrote using pictures that each stood for a word or a syllable. In Egypt, these were called hieroglyphs, and in West Asia, they were called cuneiform. Egyptian hieroglyphs Mesopotamian cuneiform Writing in China Maya hieroglyphs More [...]

Maya writing – Ancient Central America

By |2018-04-11T09:22:20+00:00September 9th, 2017|Central America, Literature|

A page from the Madrid Codex It's possible that the Maya learned how to write from the Olmec, but there aren't any definite examples of early Olmec writing, so it might also have been the Maya who invented writing in the Americas. Like most other writing systems, Maya writing is a syllabary, not an [...]

Aztec language, writing, and literature

By |2017-09-09T23:39:39+00:00September 9th, 2017|Central America, Literature|

An Aztec book, or codex (ca 1500 AD) The Aztec system of writing was very much like the Maya system. Probably the Aztec people learned how to write from the Maya. Aztec writers wrote their literature in books, which folded like a fan. We call these books codices (one codex, two or more codices). Aztec writers [...]

Writing in Ancient Egypt

By |2018-04-19T13:55:04+00:00June 17th, 2017|Africa, Egypt, Literature|

Book of the Dead Writing in Egypt goes back to pretty much the earliest writing anywhere. Nobody really knows yet whether the Egyptians figured out how to write for themselves. They might have learned about writing from the Sumerians, who also began writing about the same time, about 3000 BC. But the Egyptian [...]

Egyptian hieroglyphs – Invention of Writing

By |2018-04-19T13:54:11+00:00June 17th, 2017|Africa, Egypt, Literature|

Some of the earliest known hieroglyphs (Abydos, ca. 3200 BC) Soon after the Egyptian pharaohs united Egypt into one country, about 3200 BC, they needed government officials to run things, and they needed to keep records. Writing was invented soon afterwards. Nobody's sure whether the Egyptians invented writing for themselves, or got the [...]

Draw your own hieroglyphics – Ancient Egypt project

By |2018-04-18T23:21:53+00:00June 10th, 2017|Crafts, Egypt|

Egyptian hieroglyphics project This is a project you can do inside the classroom, or on a rainy day. Look at hieroglyphs Show the children examples of Egyptian hieroglyphs. Explain that they are pictograms. Point out that some of the hieroglyphs are inside ovals, called cartouches (car-TOOSH). These are people’s names. Create your own [...]