How the Alphabet was Born from Hieroglyphics

The invention of the alphabet ushered in what was probably the most profound media revolution in history. Earlier writing systems, like Egyptian hieroglyphic and Mesopotamian cuneiform with its curious wedge-shaped characters, each required a knowledge of hundreds of signs. To write or even to read a hieroglyphic or cuneiform text required familiarity with these signs and the complex rules that governed their use.
By contrast, an alphabetic writing system uses fewer than 30 signs, and people need only a few relatively simple reading rules that associate these signs with sounds.
This great invention had far-reaching social and cultural implications. With the alphabet, writing broke out of the “golden cage” of the professional scribal world. Writing was no longer their monopoly. When many more members of society could learn to read (and write), access to information and knowledge was no longer as limited as it had been. Alphabetic writing eventually gave many more people control over their lives and enabled larger segments of the population to take a more active role in the cultural and administrative affairs of their respective societies

~ by The acausal realms on March 13, 2010.

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