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Writing Gets a Rewrite

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

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Summary

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.