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How Writing Has Unfold Throughout the World, from 3000 BC to This 12 months: An Animated Map


The oldest recognized writing methods first emerged in Mesopotamia, between 3400 and 3100 BC, and Egypt, round 3250 BC. The Latin alphabet, which I’m utilizing to write down this put up and also you’re utilizing to learn it, step by step took the form we all know between the seventh century BC and the Center Ages. Over the eras since, it has unfold outward from Europe to turn out to be essentially the most broadly used script on the earth. These are essential developments within the historical past of writing, however hardly the one ones. It’s with all recognized writing methods that historic map animator Ollie Bye offers in the video above: not simply these used right now, however over the entire of the previous 5 millennia.

The conquests of Alexander the Nice; the Gallic Wars; the colonization of Latin America; the “scramble for Africa”: these and different main historic occasions are vividly mirrored within the unfold of sure writing methods.

Up till 1492 — after the expiration of eight and a half of the video’s eleven minutes — the map issues itself solely with Europe, Asia, and the northern three-quarters of Africa (in addition to an inlaid part depicting the civilizations of what’s now Central America). Thereafter it zooms out to incorporate the New World, and certainly the entire world, although centuries cross earlier than most of its clean areas refill with the colours that point out the adoption of a dominant script.

Arabic and Persian seem in lime inexperienced, simplified Chinese language in crimson, and Cyrillic in mild blue. Earlier than Bye’s animation reaches the center twentieth century, many of the world has turned medium blue, which represents the now-mighty Latin alphabet. The usage of these very letters for all written communication by such all kinds of cultures deserves a volumes-long historical past by itself. However maybe most intriguing right here is the persistence of comparatively minor scripts: Cree, used among the many natives of northern Canada; hiraganakatakana, and kanji in Japan; and likewise hangul in Korea — which I learn and write myself day-after-day of my life in Seoul, and to whose continued dominance right here I can confidently attest.

Associated content material:

The Atlas of Endangered Alphabets: A Free On-line Atlas That Helps Protect Writing Methods That Might Quickly Disappear

The Evolution of the Alphabet: A Colourful Flowchart, Overlaying 3,800 Years, Takes You From Historic Egypt to As we speak

Dictionary of the Oldest Written Language–It Took 90 Years to Full, and It’s Now Free On-line

How one can Write in Cuneiform, the Oldest Writing System within the World: A Brief, Charming Introduction

The Unbelievable Invention of Chinese language Typewriters & Pc Keyboards: Three Movies Inform the Techno-Cultural Story

You May Quickly Be Capable of Textual content with 2,000 Historic Egyptian Hieroglyphs

Based mostly in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and tradition. His tasks embody the Substack e-newsletter Books on Cities, the e book The Stateless Metropolis: a Stroll by Twenty first-Century Los Angeles and the video collection The Metropolis in Cinema. Observe him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Fb.



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