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Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired. - Jules Renard 

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Math Trek: From Counting to Writing, Science News Online, March 11, 2006

Math Trek: From Counting to Writing, Science News Online, March 11, 2006: "Although other scholars tend to agree that Sumerian tokens could have been devices for keeping track of goods, some argue that writing was a largely independent development. These skeptics insist that there's little evidence that cuneiform writing arose directly out of a token-based accounting system. Moreover, it's likely that writing developed independently in different parts of the world—in Mesopotamia, in the Indus River valley, and in Egypt—with each region producing its own unique form of expression for its own purpose.

In response, Schmandt-Besserat contends that she has strong archaeological evidence—thousands of tokens and hundreds of clay envelopes and early tablets—to support her theory.

Schmandt-Besserat is now exploring how the development of writing influenced art by providing a way of presenting stories on vases and other surfaces. Before writing, the patterns were largely geometric; after writing, there was narrative, she says.

At the same time, art influenced writing, helping it shift from a mundane accounting tool to an evocative form of expression, beginning as a way to preserve the names of deceased members of a family."

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