(3500 BCE - 2000 BCE)
2900 BCE-2600 BCE
28th-27th c BCE
Sumerian (Eary Dynastic)
Brussels. Musées Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire.
Writing was extremely important in the development of civilization because it allowed people to record what they knew and to easily transmit it to others. The oral tradition was limited to passing on only what knowledge individuals could remember. Although many cultures based exclusively on oral traditions were able to develop civilizations, it was a much more difficult task. Written documents allowed for a much greater accumulation of the knowledge that was available to society.
Written documents also facilitated distance trading since instructions and contracts could be carried easily from one place to another. As a matter of fact, the earliest written documents that we have discovered are the contracts of Sumerian traders, for it was along the trade routes that ideas as well as goods traveled. Early Assyrian traders had a great network that stretched from Anatolia, in what is now Turkey, to the Indus Valley in Pakistan.
The Sumerians developed a type of writing known as CUNEIFORM. A blunt wedge-shaped instrument impressed the forms into damp clay which was later baked and so preserved. Cuneiform was used not only by the Sumerians, but also by the Akkadians, the Babylonians and the Assyrians, each using it to record their own language.
Many of these documents were commercial contracts and were preserved because of a fire.