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Language                  4,000 BC
Africa
Southwest Asia
Egypt
Indus Valley
China
Europe
South America
Mesoamerica
North America
Other

Africa

 

Southwest Asia

 Another accomplishment to add to the list is the invention of writing, for we would know little of the Sumerians if they had not inscribed all kinds of facts and records on their ingenious clay tablets. Seals were also invented for the purpose of stamping their clay tablets, a form of movable type much like the rubber stamps we use today. (68)

The usual conclusion from either glottochronology or pants' seats is that the PIE (Proto-Indo-European) language community may have started to break up into several daughter language communities by 3000 BC, surely by 2500 BC and not before 5000 BC. (114)

By such reasoning linguistic paleontology, even in the absence of any other evidence, would date the break-up of PIE as before 2000 BC but after 3300 BC. This conclusion agrees well with the one reached by extrapolating the differences between Hittite, Greek, and Sanskrit backward in time. If we wish to find traces of the first Indo-Europeans, we shall be safe to concentrate on the archaeological record between 2500 and 5000 BC, and perhaps slightly before 3000 BC. (114)

The research of archaeologist Denise Schmandt-Besserat has revealed the most likely scenario for how the use of recorded symbols evolved in Mesopotamia, proposing what is essentially a five-step process. The first step involved the use of so-called clay tokens that, beginning more than 9,000 years ago, litter sites in the Middle East . The tokens initially were made in 16 basic shapes, mostly geometric forms like cones, disks, spheres, and cylinders but also stylized animals and some that resemble pottery storage jars. The second step in Schmandt-Besserat's sequence began about 6,000 years ago when the tokens appear to have experienced an explosion of elaboration, jumping from 16 basic forms to about 300, with various markings etched onto their surfaces to further differentiate their meaning. (170)

Egypt

 

Indus Valley

 Whether it came from the East or West, or regardless which came first, the alphabet bore no relationship to indigenous writing systems. Like the gap between Sanskrit and the Indus Valley script (a mixture of pictographs and ideographs still undeciphered from the 6,000 year-old cities Harappa and Mohenjo-daro), the chasm between cuneiform and hieroglyphics and the alphabet is bridgeable. (113)

The Aryans were not a distinct ethnic group, so this was not a racial term but an assertion of pride and meant something like "noble" or "honorable." The Aryans were a loose-knit network of tribes who shared a common culture. Because they spoke a language that would form the basis of several Asiatic and European tongues, they are also called Indo- Europeans. They had lived on the Caucasian steppes since about 4500 BC, but by the middle of the third millennium some tribes began to roam farther and farther afield, until they reached what is now Greece, Italy, Scandinavia, and Germany. At the same time, those Aryans who had remained behind on the steppes gradually drifted apart and became two separate peoples, speaking different forms of the original Indo-European. One used the Avestan dialect, the other an early form of Sanskrit. They were able to maintain contact, however, because at this stage their languages were still very similar, and until about 1500 BC they continued to live peacefully together, sharing the same cultural and religious traditions. (158)

China

 The most widely known of these earlier systems currently in use is the ideograph system used for the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean languages. A few Chinese characters have been found that analyst now date to about 6600 BC, but officially accepted evidence of formal use does not appear in the record until after 4000 BC. In either case, they are older than the alphabet. (113)

Europe

 New Guinea shows linguists what the world used to be like, with each isolated tribe having its own language, until agriculture's rise permitted a few groups to expand and spread their tongue over large areas. It was only about six thousand years ago that the Indo-European expansion began, leading to the extermination of all prior western European languages except Basque. (114)

3500 BC An early script in use in Mediteranean from Caria to Spain. (135)

The Aryans were not a distinct ethnic group, so this was not a racial term but an assertion of pride and meant something like "noble" or "honorable." The Aryans were a loose-knit network of tribes who shared a common culture. Because they spoke a language that would form the basis of several Asiatic and European tongues, they are also called Indo- Europeans. They had lived on the Caucasian steppes since about 4500 BC, but by the middle of the third millennium some tribes began to roam farther and farther afield, until they reached what is now Greece, Italy, Scandinavia, and Germany. At the same time, those Aryans who had remained behind on the steppes gradually drifted apart and became two separate peoples, speaking different forms of the original Indo-European. One used the Avestan dialect, the other an early form of Sanskrit. They were able to maintain contact, however, because at this stage their languages were still very similar, and until about 1500 BC they continued to live peacefully together, sharing the same cultural and religious traditions. (158)

The story gets more complicated once stone carvings from Tartaria, near Turdas in Transylvania, are taken into account. These carved clay tablets date from 4000 BC... The signs on the Tartaria tablets, especially those on the roundel No.2 are so comparable with those on the early tablets from Uruk ... as to make it virtually certain that they are somehow connected with them. Several of the signs appear to be derived from Mesopotamian signs for numerals. The only difference is that on the Mesopotamian tablets the whole shape of the sign in the case of numerals was sunk in the clay with a round ended stylus, while at Tartaria the equivalent signs were incised in outline. (160)

South America

 

Mesoamerica

 

North America

 

Other