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A Catalog of Near Eastern Tokens. In these two volumes, Denise Schmandt-Besserat set forth her groundbreaking theory that the cuneiform script invented in the Near East in the late fourth besseart B. How Writing Came About draws material from both volumes to present Schmandt-Besserat’s theory for a wide public and classroom audience.

Based on the analysis and interpretation of a selection of 8, tokens or counters from sites in Iran, Iraq, the Levant, and Turkey, it documents the immediate precursor of the cuneiform script. A condensation of volume I of Before Writing Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? Read more Read less. Discover Prime Book Box for Kids.

Add both to Cart Add both to List. One of these items ships sooner than the other. Buy the selected items together This item: Ships from and sold by Amazon. Customers who viewed this item also viewed. Page 1 of 1 Start over Page 1 of 1. From Counting to Cuneiform. The History of Counting. When Writing Met Art: From Symbol to Story. From Counting to Cuneiform v. Review “Discoveries in the history of writing are rare, but Bessserat Schmandt-Besserat made one in realizing that phonetic writing in the West descends not from pictography, a view repeated everywhere, but from abstract, nonphonetic, mostly noniconographic accounting tokens used in Neolithic farming communities of the Near East beginning from about B.

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How Writing Came About: Denise Schmandt-Besserat: : Books

Top Reviews Most recent Top Reviews. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. This book will take you through the ruins of an ancient city in Mesopotamia and then will explain the meaning of certain tablets and clay coins found there.

The author is very clear schmxndt her explanations, there are plenty of pictures and ddenise which make your understanding of the text easier.


This book is for those who like reading scholarly material because it is very concise and precise on the subject but it could seem dry reading to those who prefer the material to be presented in a more entertaining way. I found it very cenise, and it helped me understand the transition from letters to numbers. Kindle Edition Verified Purchase.

Count Her In

Excellent overview of the evolution of writing, by a researcher who is THE preeminent authority hesserat the subject. This was supposed to be a consolidated version of an earlier beseerat academic work making the material accessible to the public. The author has no clue how to write a book and maintain interest past the introduction which is pretty good, but you can read it in the preview.

Even as a professor, well, I’d hate to try and stay awake in her class. And this subject normally fascinates me. Terribly boring book to read; history is supposed to be exciting, but this book is just an awful waste of time. By Internet standards, the first and only, until mine review of this book is of a seemingly archaeological date, seven years ago, that is.

Well, I suppose this review won’t make much difference when if it’s read seven years from now! This book is, obviously, a work by a scholar, which is an entirely different category of “being smart. You can have your Back To Nature fantasies–I’ll take the hot shower and electric coffee maker, thank you very much. This particular work, apparently, is a condensation of a two-volume scholarly work, one dfnise, I am sure, that I will never read.

But the current volume the second half of which I read last night, while eating fancy crackers and drinking humble red wine–giving me a connection, I felt, to the agrarian Past of Sumer and Uruk, etc. For me, it’s almost like a religious text, transcending race, language, skin color, nationalism; it’s like a Time Machine that takes you back within the range of a subtle sniff of our “egalitarian” prehistoric ancestors; “egalitarian” meaning a small-population culture where you pretty much fed yourself and participated in the group without the framework of authority other than myth and ritual.

I wholeheartedly agree with the author’s thesis that counting preceded writing. In fact, it was my hunch–from my own reading and thinking–that this was so that prompted me to search for a book with this theory. It just makes sense.

I highly doubt that any early resident of a city started the road to high civilization talking about “ennui” or “existentialism. I paid you this much last month. And you owe me this much tomorrow.


Just the evidence-supported argument alone that breaking the counting-beyond-three barrier took thousands of years was worth the cover price to me. The single concept and revelation that in no way is the faculty of counting beyond three inate to brain function and hence, inate to our modern minds, is simply stunning to me, and adds a dose of gratitude to my daily life, a realization that makes it easier to laugh off the troubles of modern life. We owe so much to the hundreds of generations of men and women who have gone before us, most just living day to day.

A good read, especially when enjoyed with fancy crackers and red wine So far as what the next review will address: I ain’t holding my breath–and that is a very archaelogical attitude. Schmandt-Besserat is not only an acknowledged leader in epigraphy, she is one of the only linguists to study the slowly evolving history of the assyro-babylonian literary culture.

This book, and any other by this author, is strongly reccommended for any library or archeological department.

Denise Schmandt-Besserat

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