I am quoting from this website (here) about the earliest known method for writing and recording goods and exchanges. If our first means of communication (outside of verbal), thus documenting in “hard copy” our possessions and transactions began with little objects made with clay, then I allow myself to participate in the modern day counterpart of this activity — working with polymer clay.
I look at the favorite activities of my children and grandchildren – who would have guessed that play doh (and we used salt and flour clay and real terracotta clay as well) was fulfilling one of our earliest language desires. To make objects of what we love, we own and remember.
According to the article in Scripta, 2009, by Denise Schmandt-Besserat, Tokens and writing: The cognitive development. Shapes – cones spheres and discs, were measures of grain, and the tetrahedron was a measure of labor.
Jump ahead (in the mind of those same individuals)
Here is a scholarly website that explains more about this language and the method for creating the markings and provides links to some old tablets in museums around the world. This image is a crop from the gilgamesh flood story.
And this quote from the site above says the “scribes” were kind of like secretaries. but apparently male — “a scribe whose hand can keep up with the mouth, he is indeed a scribe!”. btw…. i learned to type in high school… i can keep up!! haha.
Wikipedia says: “Cuneiform or Sumero-Akkadian cuneiform, one of the earliest systems of writing, was invented by the Sumerians. It is distinguished by its wedge-shaped marks on clay tablets, made by means of a blunt reed for a stylus. … The system consists of a combination of logophonetic, consonantal alphabetic and syllabic signs.” THe part i like is the LOGOPHONETIC CONSONANTAL ALPHABETIC SYLLABIC. All inclusive, everything there. I think english might have been all inclusive at one point, and probably like all things, morphed from some prototype… but it has lost so much of that logo portion that it is hard to see. An interesting thesis would be to find those letters in english which do still retain some of their original pictographic elements. And yet, right here and now, pictographic elements of speech are used in the emoji and congi symbols as we “speak” so to speak. haha. (but wait…. we have color as part of the glyphs.
What i think is even more bizzare is that I made four styli from leftover polymer clay this morning, with the partially rounded side, and two flat sides that meet at right angles. They are about 2-3 inches long. I can’t wait to make my first “clay” (polymer clay that is) tablet.