Amazing Ancient Inventions – Part 1

2. Language

A very limited number of languages are attested from before the Bronze Age collapse and the rise of alphabetic writing: The Sumerian, Hurrian, Hattic and Elamite language isolates, Afro-Asiatic in the form of the Egyptian and a number of ancient Semitic languages, Indo-European (Anatolian languages, Mycenaean Greek and traces of Indo-Aryan), and Sino-Tibetan (Old Chinese). There are a number of undeciphered Bronze Age records, like the Linear A (encoding a possible “Minoan language”, Proto-Elamite and a “Harappan language” (Indus script).

2.1 Oldest Alphabets

The origins of the alphabet are unknown, but there are several theories as to how it developed.
Two scripts are well attested from before the end of the fourth millennium BCE: Mesopotamian cuneiform and Egyptian hieroglyphs. Both were well known in the part of the Middle East that produced the first widely used alphabet, the Phoenician. There are signs that cuneiform was developing alphabetic properties in some of the languages it was adapted for, as was seen again later in the Old Persian cuneiform script, but it now appears these developments were a sideline and not ancestral to the alphabet. The Byblos syllabary has suggestive graphic similarities to both hieratic Egyptian and to the Phoenician alphabet, but as the Byblos syllabary is undeciphered, little can be said about its role, if any, in the history of the alphabet.

The cuneiform writing system was in use for more than 35 centuries, through several stages of development, from the 34th century BC down to the 1st century AD.[2] It was completely replaced by alphabetic writing (in the general sense) in the course of the Roman era and there are no Cuneiform systems in current use.

Cuneiform. Sumerian inscription in monumental archaic style, c. 26th century BC

Cuneiform tablet from the Kirkor Minassian collection in the US Library of Congress, ca. 24th century BC.

By 2700 BCE the ancient Egyptians had developed a set of some 22 hieroglyphs to represent the individual consonants of their language, plus a 23rd that seems to have represented word-initial or word-final vowels. Hieroglyphs are employed in 3 ways in Ancient Egyptian texts: as logograms (ideograms) that represent the idea depicted by the pictures; and more commonly as phonograms denoting their phonetic value combined together to represent a word and as grammatical determinatives. Over the next five centuries it spread north, and all subsequent alphabets around the world have either descended from it, or been inspired by one of its descendants, with the possible exception of the Meroitic alphabet, a 3rd century BCE adaptation of hieroglyphs in Nubia to the south of Egypt – though even here many scholars suspect the influence of that first alphabet.  [ History of Alphabet >>]

Chinese writing

Chinese characters are logograms used in the writing of Chinese (where they may be called hanzi; and Japanese (kanji). Such characters are also used, albeit less frequently, in Korean (hanja), and were formerly used in Vietnamese (hán t?), as well as in a number of other languages. Chinese characters constitute the oldest continuously used system of writing in the world.

In recent decades, inscriptions have been found on Neolithic pottery and on bones at a variety of locations in China, including Banpo and Hualouzi near Xi’an. These simple, often geometric marks are similar to some of the earliest known Chinese characters, potentially indicating that the history of Chinese writing extends back over six millennia.  Isolated graphs and pictures continue to be found periodically, frequently accompanied by media reports that push back the purported beginnings of Chinese writing by thousands of years. For example, at Damaidi in Ningxia, 3,172 pictorial cliff carvings dating to 6000–5000 BC were discovered, leading to headlines such as “Chinese writing ‘8,000 years old.'” Similarly, archaeologists reported finding a few inscribed symbols on tortoise shells at the neolithic site of Jiahu in Henan dated to around 6600–6200 BC, leading to headlines of “‘Earliest writing’ which was found in China“.

 Old Chinese (simplified Chinese: traditional Chinese), also called Archaic Chinese in older works, refers to the form of Chinese spoken from the beginning of written records (around 1200 BC) until the 3rd century BC. The earliest inscriptions are undoubtedly Chinese, but are limited in scope and not fully understood.

Zhou dynasty bronze inscription

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  1. Gary Schoenung says

    Many of the “mysterious” accomplishments from our early recorded history were left over from an earlier age and simply taken advantage of and reused, sometimes for the original purpose and other times for something entirely different. The reason for that is because they didn’t have the slightest idea what to make of them either. This link is to a video I put together of a massive ancient irrigation system in South Africa covering hundreds of miles that was not reused, and there are presently no theories that I am aware of.

    I am looking forward to reading about any explanations for it.

  2. Elijah says

    I find the article shallow perpertrating and continuing fals concepts of 100 years ago. Breasted’s 4236bc is based on the date July 18 for Memphis when Thoth was on July 20 for 4245-4242bc and then July 19 for 4241-4238bc and July 18 for 4237-4234bc. However, shifting azimuth and shifting altitude from the sun was not accounted for and thats why Chicago’s Richard Parker in later encylclopedia made it quite clear that a Thoth 20 of 2782bc is to be revised to a Thoth 17 of 2770bc. If youre a Christian Hebrew adopted by Jesus you will then see how and why 2030bc July 17 is the true new year date which after Exodus became Persian Pamenot 1 after a 70-day absence of Sothis (May 8-July 17) that was 72-day at Ur (May 7-July 18) following Peleg’s death on May 6 which is why 365 days later Nahor Mes-Kalumdug and his (grand) son Haran (A-Kalumdug) poisoned themselves and four guards killing there 68 wives (exception Lot’s mother back in the city Harran preganant or nursing) to go to heaven to join Peleg as Christ the first leader into heaven. I shouldnt use the term Christ because christos comes from Xisuthros who is the spirit of Noah, and in true Genesis, Noah died on Christmas Eve almost 9 years after this suicide, and they claimed he was the Christ in heaven. The 365-day calendar did not exist before the Flood when years were 360 days. ALSO the word for 30-day “same-sized” months is civil month. A civil month is an artificial 30-day month.

  3. Chris Allan says

    If find it hard to reconcile the statement that the Egyptians could not build dams, but had no trouble building pyramids. Is it possible that a more advanced people lived on earth long ago, and were wiped out by some catastrophic event. All the old legends of flying machines etc. are just to detailed for them not to be based on actual events. Visitations by aliens is not necessarily the only explanation, an advanced people may have existed (Atlantis???) on earth in antiquity.

  4. Brenda Brown says

    Couldn’t it be that it was a little of both? I agree, nothings to say that early man didn’t know a lot more than we do today, and because of a major cataclysm, lost a large portion of their knowledge. I wonder if such an event took out a majority of our populace today, how many would know how to work with metals, make computers, build defence weapons, etc.? But at the same time, whose to say that some space race didn’t visit us in the ancient past and help us along? Why would that be so improbable? I think it’s highly likely.

  5. bill heaney says

    It is racism, no question about it, but is it wrong to think so? Using Occum’s Razor, the pyramids at Giza were built by people just like the one’s who live there now. If that is so, how did they lose their extraordinary building knowledge? There’s no modern building or monument in all of Egypt that can compare. It’s like they regressed. The inhabitants of the New World, in all of the Americas, didn’t have the wheel. Yet we are told they built the awesome pyramids attributed to them.
    The marvel regarding the cave art has nothing to do with the work itself, it is how they were able to do it in darkness. They find no carbon deposits on the ceilings in those caves with the extraordinary art. How is that possible?

    The recent archaeology find in Turkey, Gobekli Tepe[spelling?] is 12,000 years old, making the so-called Egyptian pyramids modern in comparison. Researchers have reported on finding petrified wood in and around the Giza monuments, hinting they are very much older, and modern dating has the Spinx much older.

    Ancient man was smart, but not all ancient men were as smart as we who read your books. That stone in Baalbek is proof that ancient man, the ones like those who live there now, could not have achieved that awesome skill. Look at that stone and explain it. Look at Nazca and explain how people without metal leveled those mountain tops. Come on, man, give me a break!

  6. says

    Interesting article. I look forward to more. . . . The prevalent and pernicious idea that our lowly caveman ancestors needed the godlike help of aliens to become “civilized” needs to be set aside. It isn’t provable. I believe civilization before the Cataclysm was, in some ways, more advanced than ours. By the way, I prefer “chronocentrism”–but either will work. Thank you.


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