The emergence of writing

Writing allows us to discover historical events, to learn and understand human thought, and entertains us through fictional texts . Its rich history has been built over millennia and is a pillar of human expression.

Prehistoric man 40,000 years ago was already engraving and painting on cave walls to portray his environment ; he used his fingers as we would use a pen today. These images cannot be recognized as writing, however, as they are devoid of meaning and are representations of the reality of a bygone era.

sumerian cuneiform clay text
sumerian cuneiform clay text

Definition of the term Writing:

To fully appreciate a concept, you have to be able to define it, which is all the more important when the concept is as fundamental as writing.

Larousse offers us a definition of what writing is:

“Representation of speech and thought by conventional graphic signs. (Invented around 3200 BC, writing marks the beginning of human history. The cradle of writing oscillates between Mesopotamia [cuneiform] and the Indus valley [hieroglyphics of Mohenjo-Daro], according to archaeological discoveries.) “

We can therefore summarize that writing is a graphic system of thought that can be affixed to a writing medium and deciphered by its peers.

So in order to be able to state that symbols can be classed as a form of writing, we must be able to determine their meaning and decipher them. If this cannot be done, their meaning remains ambiguous.

Early forms of writing:

The first forms of writing appeared 6,000 years ago in Mesopotamia and Egypt in the form of pictograms and hieroglyphs, which we discovered thanks to archaeological research.

In Mesopotamia we saw the first ideograms appear by the grouping of several pictograms.

This was practiced using pointed reeds (calames).


The earliest uses of writing were for business transactions, property identification and administrative purposes.