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Session 2

The Dawn of Writing

Wednesday 13 January 2021, 14:00 (GMT+1) - 17:00 (GMT+1)

The second session goes back to the very beginnings of writing, approaching some of the earliest scripts and potential original inventions in the world. The Indus Valley civilisation and the creation of a ‘script’, whose status is debated, and which rarely features as a theme, is treated by Dennys Frenez. And back again to early Egypt, with Andréas Stauder arguing that the proper linguistic process that led to writing (“phonetisation”) was gradual, hinged on the role played by highly iconic signs. will address the question of why ideographic codes made up of stable images are limited in their scope in contrast to full writing systems, including Chinese. Françoise Bóttero will present cases of sign formation in the earliest Chinese at the end of the second millennium BC, which was both figurative and phonographic. And, finally, the New World, with the development of the Maya script in Central America, addressed by Christian Prager.

14:00 - Crafting a Writing System: Insights on the Invention and First Developments of the Indus Script
Dennys Frenez International Association for Mediterranean and Oriental Studies, Rome

14:40 - Iconicity and Early Phoneticization in Egyptian Writing, c. 3100 BCE
Andréas Stauder École Pratique des Hautes Études, Université Paris Sciences et Lettres

Discussion (10’)

15:30 - The Beginnings of the Chinese Writing
Françoise Bottéro CNRS, Paris

16:10 - Maya Writing between Tradition and Innovation: Diachronic and Synchronous Approaches to Understanding Graphemic and Graphetic Principles in a Two-Thousand-Year History of Writing in the Americas
Christian Prager University of Bonn

Discussion (10’)