Elite dating skills

Much of this theory's development is credited to English archeologist Flinders Petrie, who, in 1905, came across a series of Canaanite inscriptions located in the turquoise mines of Serabit el-Khadem.

Ten years later, English Egyptologist Alan Gardiner reasoned that these letters contain an alphabet, as well as references to the Canaanite goddess Asherah. Albright deciphered the text using additional evidence that had been discovered subsequent to Goody's findings. Some of these inscriptions were mythological texts (written in an early Canaanite dialect) that consisted of a 32-letter cuneiform consonantal alphabet.

Script developed independently at least four times in human history in Mesopotamia, Egypt, lowland Mesoamerica, and China.

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The Early Hebrew alphabet was prominent in the Mediterranean region until Chaldean Babylonian rulers exiled the Jews to Babylon in the sixth century BCE.

It was then that the new script ("Square Hebrew") emerged and the older one rapidly died out.

Proto-cuneiform texts exhibit not only numerical signs, but also ideograms depicting objects being counted.

Egyptian hieroglyphs emerged from 3300-3100 BCE and depicted royal iconography that emphasized power amongst other elites.

These examples indicate that early acts of literacy were closely tied to power and chiefly used for management practices, and probably less than 1% of the population was literate, as it was confined to a very small ruling elite.

According to social anthropologist Jack Goody, there are two interpretations that regard the origin of the alphabet.Many classical scholars, such as historian Ignace Gelb, credit the Ancient Greeks for creating the first alphabetic system (c.750 BCE) that used distinctive signs for consonants and vowels.The Egyptian hieroglyphic writing system was the first notation system to have phonetic values.Writing in lowland Mesoamerica was first put into practice by the Olmec and Zapotec civilizations in 900-400 BCE.But Goody contests, "The importance of Greek culture of the subsequent history of Western Europe has led to an over-emphasis, by classicists and others, on the addition of specific vowel signs to the set of consonantal ones that had been developed earlier in Western Asia".

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