Learning Update — August 4, 2021

Origins of civilization, evolution of writing, and cuneiform script.

The Start of Western Civilization

  • One thing I’ve been learning (or, trying to learn) a lot about recently is, sort of, the “flow” of civilization — from as far back as possible.

    For example, where did all the biblical texts come from? What languages were they written in? How did those languages change? What is a neat and tidy narrative to understand all that?

    And that’s the problem: I’m learning a lot, but I can’t really neatly sum it all up (for myself or for you!) into a neat narrative. So it can feel like I’m learning nothing.

    There’s lots to say, but for now I’ll start with cuneiform, the script used in Mesopotamia for many languages.

Cuneiform and the Evolution of Script

  • An important question I don’t have an answer to is: why did cuneiform die out? Cuneiform has no descendent scripts. What causes such a dominant, universal script to die out? The explanations I’ve come across so far are not compelling enough.

BONUS: Here is a 53 second video showing how cuneiform was written on clay tablets. It’s magical.