Through March 6, 2011
The Oriental Institute
, an intriguing new exhibit now on display at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, highlights the origins and development of writing among the ancient civilizations of the Near East, China and Mesoamerica. Included in the exhibit are the earliest cuneiform tablets from Mesopotamia, impressed with pictographic signs more than 5,000 years old, as well as tags and labels made of bone and ivory that represent the first uses of writing among ancient Egyptians. The exhibit also showcases early examples of Chinese oracle writing inscribed on bones and Mayan hieroglyphs incised on 1,300-year-old ceremonial altars. Visible Language
explores the origins of the alphabet, which appears to have developed in southern Sinai around 1800 B.C.E,a
before spreading to Canaan, Arabia, Greece and beyond.