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Writing

WRITING. It is generally assumed that the earliest forms of writing were pictographic, not phonetic. That is to say, the ideas were recorded by means of pictures, or sense-symbols, rather than by sound-symbols such as are used in most modern languages. The earliest human beings presumably drew a picture of the idea they wished to represent, rather than using a sign to show how the word in question was to be pronounced. Thus the circle of the sun-disk might indicate either the sun itself (in Egyptian the word re’, in Sumerian ud) or the span of time during which the sun would shine. The concept of human being was conveyed in Egyptian by the picture of a person sitting with one leg curled under and the other bent with the knee upright. This figure would be accompanied by a single vertical stroke if only one person was involved or by more strokes according to the number of people referred to. In Sumerian the idea of human being (lu) was conveyed by a triangular head and a turnip-shaped