OI exhibit traces invention of writing

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September 27, 2010
September 30, 2010

Summary

From September 28, 2010 through March 6, 2011, a new exhibition at the Oriental Institute Museum at the University of Chicago will show visitors how scribes in the ancient Middle East invented writing, thus transforming prehistoric cultures into civilizations.Writing is one of humankind's greatest achievements. Writing took a variety of forms, many of which are displayed in the exhibition, "Visible Language: Inventions of Writing in the Ancient Middle East and Beyond" that runs from September 28 to March 6 at the museum, 1155 East 58th Street.Exhibit curator Christopher Woods, Associate Professor at the Oriental Institute, said, "In the eyes of many, writing represents a defining quality of civilization. There are four instances and places in human history when writing was invented from scratch -- in Mesopotamia, Egypt, China and Mesoamerica -- without previous exposure to or knowledge of writing. It appears likely that all other writing systems evolved from the four systems we have in our exhibition."wedge-shaped script that was incised on clay tablets. Examples of that form of writing will also be exhibited.