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Earliest Evidence of Writing Found in Southern Egypt
From the BASNY Explorer

Evidence of the earliest known writing has been found on clay tablets in a southern Egyptian tomb belonging to King Scorpion, who ruled in the south over 5000 years ago, just prior to the foundation of the First Dynasty. Gustave Dryer, head of the German Archaeological Institute that made the find said that the tablets record linen and oil deliveries made about 5,300 years ago as tithe to King Scorpion I, which indicates that although ancient Egyptians tried to avoid death they never learned to avoid taxes. He also said the tablets have been carbon-dated with certainty to between 3300 BCE and 3200 BCE.

The writings were in the form of line drawings of animals, plants and mountains, and suggest that hieroglyphs evolved over time rather than suddenly appear. Like many early chieftains, Scorpion took an animal name for himself. Other early chiefs had names such as mouse, falcon, elephant and so on. Each of the symbols stood for a consonant and the scribes combined the symbols to create words. For example, the city named Ba-set was written by putting together a throne, known as Ba, and a stork, set. So far the team has found over three hundred pieces with some writing on it and they have deciphered about two-thirds of them.

Kent Weeks, the distinguished Egyptologist, said, “This would be one of the greatest discoveries in the history of writing and ancient Egyptian culture.”

The find challenges the present view that true writing originated in Mesopotamia before it appeared in Egypt, but the issue is still unsettled. In any event, we now know that a sophisticated Egyptian civilization eveolved much earlier than previously thought.

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