John Man's Alpha Beta: How 26 Letters Shaped the Western World PDF

By John Man

ISBN-10: 0471211699

ISBN-13: 9780471211693

Compliment for Alpha Beta
"This e-book comes on the ideal second as we rediscover the significance in early analyzing of cracking the alphabetic code. the tale of ways that code got here into being is an interesting one, and guy is the appropriate author to inform it." instances academic Supplement

"A richly soaking up exploration, from B.C. to desktops, of the evolution of the main basic characters of our cultural historical past, the alphabet we loads take with no consideration. John guy writes with a compellingly stressed interest and immediacy. The ever staggering, exotically distinct narrative in his informative ebook makes it as undryly relaxing as a winning archaelogical dig of 1 of Alan Moorehead s colourful histories of African exploration." David Grambs, writer of The Describer s Dictionary and The Endangered English Dictionary

"Text that's crisp, taut, and as transparent as a bell.... a desirable tale with many a beguiling subplot alongside the way." New Scientist

"Letter excellent the easiest histories and mysteries of our ABC s!" Jeff McQuain, writer of by no means sufficient phrases and gear Language

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Additional resources for Alpha Beta: How 26 Letters Shaped the Western World

Sample text

Some wealthy group then commissioned artisans to make golden stamps, which were used to print messages on clay – an operation that would surely have been done many times, using the same or similar clay moulds, perhaps over many generations. A baked disc makes a handy shape to record signs of this size. There must at one time have been hundreds, thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of such discs scattered across the eastern Mediterranean. If others survive in some buried archive, a new discovery may one day make all clear.

Meanwhile, we must suppose, a whole universe went unrecorded. At the courts of kings, bards sang songs of ancient heroes. In temples, priests recited prayers and sacred texts. But no one thought to make larger tablets and write these things down because the poems were passed on by word of mouth and because the purpose of writing, other than to record economic information, was to display mastery of the complex script. It was only when Sumerian started to vanish that, in about 2050 BC, King Shulgi of Ur ordered the old oral literature to be recorded, on tablets which either did not survive or have yet to be found.

It lay hidden or forgotten, until Pernier unearthed it. Since then, scholars and lay people have puzzled over the disc, now in the Iraklion Museum, and over its copies, and over enlarged photographs, wringing information from it. The most astonishing thing about the disc is that the crisp little signs are not drawn on the clay. They are carefully printed, by well-made, hard stamps. This makes the disc the first known example of printing. < previous page page_22 next page > < previous page page_23 next page > Page 23 Clearly, it was not a one-off.

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Alpha Beta: How 26 Letters Shaped the Western World by John Man


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