News FocusArchaeology

Writing Gets a Rewrite

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  29 Jun 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5526, pp. 2418-2420
DOI: 10.1126/science.292.5526.2418

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution


BAGHDAD-- Recent discoveries in the Near East and Pakistan are forcing scholars to reconsider traditional ideas about writing's evolution. Most researchers now agree that writing is less the invention of a single talented individual than the result of a complex evolutionary process stretching back thousands of years before the first hard evidence of writing surfaced in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and the Indus River valley about 3300 B.C. But a lack of fresh data, the reluctance of museum curators to allow potentially destructive testing of critical artifacts, and the limitations of radiocarbon dating are making it difficult to sort out the origins of writing.