silentletter (a letter is really either the symbol of a sound or it is unnecessary). Writing was developed independently in Egypt (see hieroglyphic ), Mesopotamia (see cuneiform ), China, and among the Zapotec , Olmec , and Maya in Central America. There are some areas where the question as to whether writing was adopted or independently developed is in doubt, as at Easter Island. Ancient writing, at first pictographic in nature, is best known from stone and clay inscriptions , but the use of perishable materials, mainly palm leaf, papyrus, and paper, began in ancient times. See accent calligraphy punctuation paleography .
See J. H. Ober, Writing: Man's Greatest Invention (1964) O. Ogg, The 26 Letters (rev. ed. 1971) J. A. Fishman, Advances in the Creation and Revision of Writing Systems (1977) A. Gaur A History of Writing (1984) G. Sampson Writing Systems (1985) R. Harris, The Origin of Writing (1986).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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