Why Is Writing Important for Society? Essay Example
Whether we realize it or not writing is one of the most basic and necessary tools in our society. That is why reading is one of the first things they teach you as a child. Reading and writing helps us be able to understand what someone is saying when they are not there, such as a warning or even to share ideas on a wide scale. So much of our society is based in writings, so it is hard to imagine it not being in place. These things were not always in place and looking back in history we can see the first attempts and languages of writing.
The first forms of early writing date back about 3000 B.C.E. in Mesopotamia by Sumerians, who were the people there. They developed these writings so they could keep a record of sheep, cattle, grains, and other resources so they could be rationed out appropriately. These first types of writings were used by the people in charge of rations and were more pictographs of the item or animal than actual words. Unsurprisingly, the first actual written language they invented was called Sumerian, which simply makes sense. These writings were carved into damp clay tablets, which were then called Cuneiform according to The British Museum. Each symbol represented a sound which, when strung together made full words so this was the first writing that represented spoken word. This begun the writings of letters and literature, the most well-known being the Epic of Gilgamesh, which had a huge impact on society and was passed throughout the lands.
Around the same time (3200-3000 B.C.E.), Egyptians were creating hieroglyphs. They were essentially a language of pictographs that was an alphabet. Unlike Sumerian, it was not based on spoken word. The materials Egyptian scribes used were mostly wood and papyrus but would occasionally use other materials such as metal, bone, or even leather. However, most inscriptions that used leather were not preserved well and so it is hard to know how often they used this material. The uses for these writings are interpreted to be signs of ownership, accounting, or even contents if written on a piece of pottery which shows the progression of language compared to just keeping count. These writings progressed over hundreds of years and dating to around 2500 B.C.E. the “Pyramid Texts” were created. These are the oldest known recordings of Egyptian literature according to Priscila Scoville in her article on Egyptian hieroglyphs published by the World History Encyclopedia. This written language was important because it allowed for more complex accounting as well as blessings and other rituals for the deceased.
In the Chinese Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 B.C.E.) they would use the underside of turtle shells or shoulder blades of oxen to carve symbols into them and these were known as Oracle Bones or Dragon Bones. They were used for divination or fortune-telling where they would use a hot poker on the bone or shell till it cracked which they then would interpret the meaning of based on the direction it went in relation to whatever they drew on it. Later, the symbols can be recognized as Chinese script. Emily Mark writes in her article about the Oracle Bones on the World History Encyclopedia, “These inscriptions are priceless to historians because they record the questions and answers people had about their lives” which I find to be very interesting cause it gives us a glimpse into the past where people were at the same time very different to us but are also like us in the fact that they had humanity and were people. These artifacts are priceless to historians for that very reason.
In conclusion, the importance of written languages is communication but the importance of studying these early written languages is to investigate the minds and thoughts of people of the past. Being able to identify with and what the people in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and even China is amazing. Knowing what people in the past thought was important to write down and how it progressed their ability to keep track of things in their societies. This lets us come to our own conclusions about those subject matters, and it’s all thanks to the people and societies that left these things behind for us that we are able to do that at all.