System of Writing

Code of Hammurabi 
Image Source: course, laws or anything else could not be written down until the system of spoken language developed into a written one. Around 2500 BCE, early forms of script began to take shape and develop into a written language. Sumerian cuneiform, or wedge shaped writing, was a major change in the technology of the time. The Sumerians used a wedge shaped stylus (sharp, pointed tool) to etch the writing into soft clay tablets. It was used to record information about trade, create administrative documents, literature, letters, prayers and other religious works, as well as all forms of economic transactions.

Cuneiform was based on an early form of writing known as pictograph. This simpler form of writing used symbols to stand for real objects, such as a house or water. As the language developed, these pictures became less detailed and eventually a series of lines and wedges remained. At the beginning, there may have been upwards of 2,000 symbols.

Learn more about the systems of writing that developed in the ancient world.