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Lecture 2

Media, Information and Technoculture 2000F/G Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Eric A. Havelock, Sumer, Pictogram

Media, Information and Technoculture
Course Code
MIT 2000F/G
Daniel Robinson

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015
MIT 2000 - Week 2
Writing and Print Culture
Origins of Writing: Sumeria
1: 3200BCE Mesopotamia
2: Accountancy: economy outstripping memory
3. Pictograph Script
- account of grain bread tablet
- little pictures meant to represent real life objects
- first type of ‘language writing’
1. Rebus principle
2. Pictographic symbol used for phonetic value
- words are represented/conveyed by a combination of images/principles
- very limited as there are only so many concepts that can be presented through such
- Abstract Concepts: rel./legal/medical texts, objects and ideas
- Cuneiform: wedge-shaped characters used in the ancient writing systems, pictography
to formal patterns, ideographic and syllabic symbols, non-alphabetic
- messages written on clay tablets that were baked for preservation
- cylinders on clay/ personal stamps
- enabled trade/ commerce
- time-biased medium as clay is heavy, not suited for long travel, cannot transport easily
over broad areas
- useful for providing permanent records
Spread of Writing
- writing systems developed independently
- 3200BCE Sumeria
- 3000BCE Egypt - hieroglyphics (hieratic/demotic scripts)
- 2500BCE Indus Valley (India/ Pakistan)
- 1200BCE China
- 600BCE Central America (Mayans)
- Pictographic/schematic scripts
Writing: Alphabetic
- Phoenicians (1500BCE, 22 letters)
- Hebrew, Latin, Arabic, Cyrillic, Bengali (Indo-European)
- now its possible to have a greater expansion of terminology
- Phonetic = alphabetic system
Greek Alphabet/ Writing
- adapt Phoenician alphabet (vowels) 1000-200BCE
- easier to read and write
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