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Re: [ANE-2] Re: Oldest writing system

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  • Peter T. Daniels
    Replying to both Doug P. and Tom V.: please see interpolations below.   -- Peter T. Daniels                 grammatim@verizon.net ...   This
    Message 1 of 24 , Jan 4, 2012
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      Replying to both Doug P. and Tom V.: please see interpolations below.
       
      --
      Peter T. Daniels                 grammatim@...


      >________________________________
      > From: Tom Verenna <tsverenna@...>
      >To: "ANE-2@yahoogroups.com" <ANE-2@yahoogroups.com>
      >Cc: "<ANE-2@yahoogroups.com>" <ANE-2@yahoogroups.com>
      >Sent: Wednesday, January 4, 2012 11:29 AM
      >Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Re: Oldest writing system
      >
      >Forgive my ignorance here, but wasn't the earliest writing system derived from counting tokens?  Would we consider the counting system based in tokens itself to be a written language in a sense?
       
      This is the theory of Denise Schmandt-Besserat, which was seized upon by journalists but has not found much favor with archeologists / writing systems specialists. A lesser included claim, that the Sumerian numerical notation was influenced by tokens, is not implausible, but the nature and distribution of the tokens do not correspond well with her interpretations of them in relation to the predecessors of cuneiform signs -- her data were re-analyzed by Paul Zimansky in a review in Journal of Field Archaeology 20 (1993): 513-17.
       
      As for the definition of writing, it has until very recently been understood strictly as a graphic system that records _language_, not just "ideas," and unless the system has a way of notating the sounds of a language, so that things can be written that can't be pictured, including grammatical affixes and proper names, then it isn't writing.
       
      More recently, though, enthusiasts want to label as "writing" any graphic communication system. But since we're going to need a term for graphic communication systems that record language, we should retain the traditional term "writing" for that, and use the newer term "semiotic system" for _any_ system that communicates meaning, whether via language or not.

      >Thomas Verenna
      >Philadelphia, pa
      >
      >Sent from my iPhone
      >
      >On Jan 4, 2012, at 10:11 AM, "Douglas Petrovich" <dp@...> wrote:
      >
      >> Doug,
      >>
      >> I think it is fair to say that the consensus is that the earliest writing system, dating to late in the Late Uruk period (subsequent to the Uruk Expansion) in its infancy, originates in Uruk, at the very time when this city mushrooms in its growth.

      It's hard to dispute the Uruk origin of Mesopotamian cuneiform, but its primacy as "world's first" has been challenged by the "tags" from Abydos discovered by Dreyer in the 1990s that bear what appear to be forerunners of Egyptian hieroglyphs and may be earlier than the earliest Uruk materials (which aren't stratigraphically dated). They seem to be too simple to fit a useful definition of writing, but could well have provided the graphic shapes that later appeared on the Narmer palette.

      >> As for whether this system has any universally recognized name, such as Sumerian, proto-Sumerian, or something different, I am not too sure. Perhaps someone else can provide this piece of the puzzle.
      >>
      >> Doug Petrovich
      >> Toronto, Canada
    • Jack Kilmon
      Not a bit of ignorance there, Tom. More important for the development of modern society is the tokens counted jars of BEER. :) Jack Kilmon Houston, TX ...
      Message 2 of 24 , Jan 4, 2012
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        Not a bit of ignorance there, Tom. More important for the development of
        modern society is the tokens counted jars of BEER. :)

        Jack Kilmon
        Houston, TX



        -----Original Message-----
        From: Tom Verenna
        Sent: Wednesday, January 04, 2012 10:29 AM
        To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
        Cc: <ANE-2@yahoogroups.com>
        Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Re: Oldest writing system

        Forgive my ignorance here, but wasn't the earliest writing system derived
        from counting tokens? Would we consider the counting system based in tokens
        itself to be a written language in a sense?

        Thomas Verenna
        Philadelphia, pa

        Sent from my iPhone

        On Jan 4, 2012, at 10:11 AM, "Douglas Petrovich"
        <dp@...> wrote:

        > Doug,
        >
        > I think it is fair to say that the consensus is that the earliest writing
        > system, dating to late in the Late Uruk period (subsequent to the Uruk
        > Expansion) in its infancy, originates in Uruk, at the very time when this
        > city mushrooms in its growth.
        >
        > As for whether this system has any universally recognized name, such as
        > Sumerian, proto-Sumerian, or something different, I am not too sure.
        > Perhaps someone else can provide this piece of the puzzle.
        >
        > Doug Petrovich
        > Toronto, Canada
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
        >


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



        ------------------------------------

        Yahoo! Groups Links
      • Ian Onvlee
        From Spain we still have the Mas-d Azilian pebble script (yet undeciphered, and looks much like Phoenician)), dated to circa 10.000 BC!   Ian Onvlee, Den
        Message 3 of 24 , Jan 5, 2012
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          From Spain
          we still have the Mas-d'Azilian pebble script (yet undeciphered, and looks much like Phoenician)), dated to circa 10.000 BC!
           
          Ian Onvlee,
          Den Haag, the Netherlands

           
           
          From: Jack Kilmon <jkilmon@...>
          To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Wednesday, January 4, 2012 10:09 PM
          Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Re: Oldest writing system


           

          Not a bit of ignorance there, Tom. More important for the development of
          modern society is the tokens counted jars of BEER. :)

          Jack Kilmon
          Houston, TX

          -----Original Message-----
          From: Tom Verenna
          Sent: Wednesday, January 04, 2012 10:29 AM
          To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
          Cc: <ANE-2@yahoogroups.com>
          Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Re: Oldest writing system

          Forgive my ignorance here, but wasn't the earliest writing system derived
          from counting tokens? Would we consider the counting system based in tokens
          itself to be a written language in a sense?

          Thomas Verenna
          Philadelphia, pa

          Sent from my iPhone

          On Jan 4, 2012, at 10:11 AM, "Douglas Petrovich"
          <dp@...> wrote:

          > Doug,
          >
          > I think it is fair to say that the consensus is that the earliest writing
          > system, dating to late in the Late Uruk period (subsequent to the Uruk
          > Expansion) in its infancy, originates in Uruk, at the very time when this
          > city mushrooms in its growth.
          >
          > As for whether this system has any universally recognized name, such as
          > Sumerian, proto-Sumerian, or something different, I am not too sure.
          > Perhaps someone else can provide this piece of the puzzle.
          >
          > Doug Petrovich
          > Toronto, Canada
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
          >

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

          ------------------------------------

          Yahoo! Groups Links




          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Trudy Kawami
          Could you please give us a published reference for this script and its archaeological context(s)? It would be odd indeed, if it looked like Phoenician which
          Message 4 of 24 , Jan 5, 2012
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            Could you please give us a published reference for this script and its archaeological context(s)? It would be odd indeed, if it looked like Phoenician which was used only thousands of years later. Writing systems change & develop over the year/centuries/millennia and as they migrate.
            As an after-thought – if it is not yet deciphered, how do we know it is actual writing & not just a symbol/pictograph system like the Western US cattle brands?

            Trudy S. Kawami

            From: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Ian Onvlee
            Sent: Thursday, January 05, 2012 11:11 AM
            To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Re: Oldest writing system



            From Spain
            we still have the Mas-d'Azilian pebble script (yet undeciphered, and looks much like Phoenician)), dated to circa 10.000 BC!

            Ian Onvlee,
            Den Haag, the Netherlands



            From: Jack Kilmon <jkilmon@...<mailto:jkilmon%40historian.net>>
            To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com<mailto:ANE-2%40yahoogroups.com>
            Sent: Wednesday, January 4, 2012 10:09 PM
            Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Re: Oldest writing system



            Not a bit of ignorance there, Tom. More important for the development of
            modern society is the tokens counted jars of BEER. :)

            Jack Kilmon
            Houston, TX

            -----Original Message-----
            From: Tom Verenna
            Sent: Wednesday, January 04, 2012 10:29 AM
            To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com<mailto:ANE-2%40yahoogroups.com>
            Cc: <ANE-2@yahoogroups.com<mailto:ANE-2%40yahoogroups.com>>
            Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Re: Oldest writing system

            Forgive my ignorance here, but wasn't the earliest writing system derived
            from counting tokens? Would we consider the counting system based in tokens
            itself to be a written language in a sense?

            Thomas Verenna
            Philadelphia, pa

            Sent from my iPhone

            On Jan 4, 2012, at 10:11 AM, "Douglas Petrovich"
            <dp@...<mailto:dp%40exegesisinternational.org>> wrote:

            > Doug,
            >
            > I think it is fair to say that the consensus is that the earliest writing
            > system, dating to late in the Late Uruk period (subsequent to the Uruk
            > Expansion) in its infancy, originates in Uruk, at the very time when this
            > city mushrooms in its growth.
            >
            > As for whether this system has any universally recognized name, such as
            > Sumerian, proto-Sumerian, or something different, I am not too sure.
            > Perhaps someone else can provide this piece of the puzzle.
            >
            > Doug Petrovich
            > Toronto, Canada
            >
            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >
            >

            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

            ------------------------------------

            Yahoo! Groups Links

            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Peter T. Daniels
            Looking like Phoenician is no big deal -- already Ungnad and Sprengling in the 1920s and 1930s pointed out that there are only so many simple combinations of
            Message 5 of 24 , Jan 5, 2012
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              "Looking like Phoenician" is no big deal -- already Ungnad and Sprengling in the 1920s and 1930s pointed out that there are only so many simple combinations of strokes that could appear in a semiotic system. It would be odd if a "script" didn't contain boxes, O's, H's, L's, M's, N's, T's, etc.

              A way to guess whether a graphic semiotic system is "writing," i.e. records a spoken language, is to determine whether any random-looking sequences of signs are repeated in different inscriptions. (If we saw something like IOIOIOIOIOIOI, we might suspect that was decorative rather than writing.)

              --
              Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...
              Jersey City


              >________________________________
              > From: Trudy Kawami <tkawami@...>
              >To: "ANE-2@yahoogroups.com" <ANE-2@yahoogroups.com>
              >Sent: Thursday, January 5, 2012 12:33 PM
              >Subject: RE: [ANE-2] Re: Oldest writing system
              >
              >
              >

              >
              >Could you please give us a published reference for this script and its archaeological context(s)? It would be odd indeed, if it looked like Phoenician which was used only thousands of years later. Writing systems change & develop over the year/centuries/millennia and as they migrate.
              >As an after-thought – if it is not yet deciphered, how do we know it is actual writing & not just a symbol/pictograph system like the Western US cattle brands?
              >
              >Trudy S. Kawami
              >
              >From: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Ian Onvlee
              >Sent: Thursday, January 05, 2012 11:11 AM
              >To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
              >Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Re: Oldest writing system
              >
              >
              >
              >From Spain
              >we still have the Mas-d'Azilian pebble script (yet undeciphered, and looks much like Phoenician)), dated to circa 10.000 BC!
              >
              >Ian Onvlee,
              >Den Haag, the Netherlands
              >
              >
              >
              >From: Jack Kilmon <jkilmon@...<mailto:jkilmon%40historian.net>>
              >To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com<mailto:ANE-2%40yahoogroups.com>
              >Sent: Wednesday, January 4, 2012 10:09 PM
              >Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Re: Oldest writing system
              >
              >
              >
              >Not a bit of ignorance there, Tom. More important for the development of
              >modern society is the tokens counted jars of BEER. :)
              >
              >Jack Kilmon
              >Houston, TX
              >
              >-----Original Message-----
              >From: Tom Verenna
              >Sent: Wednesday, January 04, 2012 10:29 AM
              >To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com<mailto:ANE-2%40yahoogroups.com>
              >Cc: <ANE-2@yahoogroups.com<mailto:ANE-2%40yahoogroups.com>>
              >Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Re: Oldest writing system
              >
              >Forgive my ignorance here, but wasn't the earliest writing system derived
              >from counting tokens? Would we consider the counting system based in tokens
              >itself to be a written language in a sense?
              >
              >Thomas Verenna
              >Philadelphia, pa
              >
              >Sent from my iPhone
              >
              >On Jan 4, 2012, at 10:11 AM, "Douglas Petrovich"
              ><dp@...<mailto:dp%40exegesisinternational.org>> wrote:
              >
              >> Doug,
              >>
              >> I think it is fair to say that the consensus is that the earliest writing
              >> system, dating to late in the Late Uruk period (subsequent to the Uruk
              >> Expansion) in its infancy, originates in Uruk, at the very time when this
              >> city mushrooms in its growth.
              >>
              >> As for whether this system has any universally recognized name, such as
              >> Sumerian, proto-Sumerian, or something different, I am not too sure.
              >> Perhaps someone else can provide this piece of the puzzle.
              >>
              >> Doug Petrovich
              >> Toronto, Canada
              >>
              >> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >>
              >>
              >
              >[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >
              >------------------------------------
              >
              >Yahoo! Groups Links
              >
              >[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >
              >
              >[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >

              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Doug Weller
              Hi Peter, Thanks to you and all who have responded. Where do these Jiroft tablets fit in? http://www.chnpress.com/news/?section=2&id=6864 Doug ... -- -- Doug
              Message 6 of 24 , Jan 5, 2012
              • 0 Attachment
                Hi Peter,

                Thanks to you and all who have responded.
                Where do these Jiroft tablets fit in?

                http://www.chnpress.com/news/?section=2&id=6864

                Doug

                Wednesday, January 4, 2012, 5:24:03 PM, you wrote:

                > Replying to both Doug P. and Tom V.: please see interpolations below.
                >  
                > --
                > Peter T. Daniels                 grammatim@...


                >>________________________________
                >> From: Tom Verenna <tsverenna@...>
                >>To: "ANE-2@yahoogroups.com" <ANE-2@yahoogroups.com>
                >>Cc: "<ANE-2@yahoogroups.com>" <ANE-2@yahoogroups.com>
                >>Sent: Wednesday, January 4, 2012 11:29 AM
                >>Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Re: Oldest writing system
                >>
                >>Forgive my ignorance here, but wasn't the earliest writing system derived from counting tokens?  Would we consider the counting system based in tokens itself to be a written language in a sense?
                >  
                > This is the theory of Denise Schmandt-Besserat, which was seized
                > upon by journalists but has not found much favor with archeologists
                > / writing systems specialists. A lesser included claim, that the
                > Sumerian numerical notation was influenced by tokens, is not
                > implausible, but the nature and distribution of the tokens do not
                > correspond well with her interpretations of them in relation to the
                > predecessors of cuneiform signs -- her data were re-analyzed by Paul
                > Zimansky in a review in Journal of Field Archaeology 20 (1993): 513-17.
                >  
                > As for the definition of writing, it has until very recently been
                > understood strictly as a graphic system that records _language_, not
                > just "ideas," and unless the system has a way of notating the sounds
                > of a language, so that things can be written that can't be pictured,
                > including grammatical affixes and proper names, then it isn't writing.
                >  
                > More recently, though, enthusiasts want to label as "writing" any
                > graphic communication system. But since we're going to need a term
                > for graphic communication systems that record language, we should
                > retain the traditional term "writing" for that, and use the newer
                > term "semiotic system" for _any_ system that communicates meaning, whether via language or not.

                >>Thomas Verenna
                >>Philadelphia, pa
                >>
                >>Sent from my iPhone
                >>
                >>On Jan 4, 2012, at 10:11 AM, "Douglas Petrovich" <dp@...> wrote:
                >>
                >>> Doug,
                >>>
                >>> I think it is fair to say that the consensus is that the earliest writing system, dating to late in the Late Uruk period (subsequent to the Uruk Expansion) in its infancy, originates in Uruk, at the very time when this city mushrooms in its growth.

                > It's hard to dispute the Uruk origin of Mesopotamian cuneiform, but
                > its primacy as "world's first" has been challenged by the "tags"
                > from Abydos discovered by Dreyer in the 1990s that bear what appear
                > to be forerunners of Egyptian hieroglyphs and may be earlier than
                > the earliest Uruk materials (which aren't stratigraphically dated).
                > They seem to be too simple to fit a useful definition of writing,
                > but could well have provided the graphic shapes that later appeared on the Narmer palette.

                >>> As for whether this system has any universally recognized name, such as Sumerian, proto-Sumerian, or something different, I am not too sure. Perhaps someone else can provide this piece of the puzzle.
                >>>
                >>> Doug Petrovich
                >>> Toronto, Canada


                > ------------------------------------

                > Yahoo! Groups Links






                --
                --
                Doug Weller Moderator, sci.archaeology.moderated
                Director The Hall of Ma'at http://www.hallofmaat.com
                Doug's Skeptical Archaeology Site: http://www.ramtops.co.uk
              • Trudy Kawami
                Doug, Your question cannot really be answered until the Jiroft signs have been completely published including their archaeological context(s). Photos alone are
                Message 7 of 24 , Jan 5, 2012
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                  Doug,
                  Your question cannot really be answered until the Jiroft signs have been completely published including their archaeological context(s). Photos alone are not enough to establish where they were found (locus) and at what depth (stratum) and with what other objects. According to the 2006 link that you provided (an Iranian government website), neither tablet was found in a controlled context by an archaeologist. Until additional information is available, all conjecture are based on incomplete (at best) evidence.
                  Trudy S. Kawami

                  From: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Doug Weller
                  Sent: Thursday, January 05, 2012 2:07 PM
                  To: Peter T. Daniels
                  Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Re: Oldest writing system



                  Hi Peter,

                  Thanks to you and all who have responded.
                  Where do these Jiroft tablets fit in?

                  http://www.chnpress.com/news/?section=2&id=6864

                  Doug

                  Wednesday, January 4, 2012, 5:24:03 PM, you wrote:

                  > Replying to both Doug P. and Tom V.: please see interpolations below.
                  >
                  > --
                  > Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...<mailto:grammatim%40verizon.net>

                  >>________________________________
                  >> From: Tom Verenna <tsverenna@...<mailto:tsverenna%40gmail.com>>
                  >>To: "ANE-2@yahoogroups.com<mailto:ANE-2%40yahoogroups.com>" <ANE-2@yahoogroups.com<mailto:ANE-2%40yahoogroups.com>>
                  >>Cc: "<ANE-2@yahoogroups.com<mailto:ANE-2%40yahoogroups.com>>" <ANE-2@yahoogroups.com<mailto:ANE-2%40yahoogroups.com>>
                  >>Sent: Wednesday, January 4, 2012 11:29 AM
                  >>Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Re: Oldest writing system
                  >>
                  >>Forgive my ignorance here, but wasn't the earliest writing system derived from counting tokens? Would we consider the counting system based in tokens itself to be a written language in a sense?
                  >
                  > This is the theory of Denise Schmandt-Besserat, which was seized
                  > upon by journalists but has not found much favor with archeologists
                  > / writing systems specialists. A lesser included claim, that the
                  > Sumerian numerical notation was influenced by tokens, is not
                  > implausible, but the nature and distribution of the tokens do not
                  > correspond well with her interpretations of them in relation to the
                  > predecessors of cuneiform signs -- her data were re-analyzed by Paul
                  > Zimansky in a review in Journal of Field Archaeology 20 (1993): 513-17.
                  >
                  > As for the definition of writing, it has until very recently been
                  > understood strictly as a graphic system that records _language_, not
                  > just "ideas," and unless the system has a way of notating the sounds
                  > of a language, so that things can be written that can't be pictured,
                  > including grammatical affixes and proper names, then it isn't writing.
                  >
                  > More recently, though, enthusiasts want to label as "writing" any
                  > graphic communication system. But since we're going to need a term
                  > for graphic communication systems that record language, we should
                  > retain the traditional term "writing" for that, and use the newer
                  > term "semiotic system" for _any_ system that communicates meaning, whether via language or not.

                  >>Thomas Verenna
                  >>Philadelphia, pa
                  >>
                  >>Sent from my iPhone
                  >>
                  >>On Jan 4, 2012, at 10:11 AM, "Douglas Petrovich" <dp@...<mailto:dp%40exegesisinternational.org>> wrote:
                  >>
                  >>> Doug,
                  >>>
                  >>> I think it is fair to say that the consensus is that the earliest writing system, dating to late in the Late Uruk period (subsequent to the Uruk Expansion) in its infancy, originates in Uruk, at the very time when this city mushrooms in its growth.

                  > It's hard to dispute the Uruk origin of Mesopotamian cuneiform, but
                  > its primacy as "world's first" has been challenged by the "tags"
                  > from Abydos discovered by Dreyer in the 1990s that bear what appear
                  > to be forerunners of Egyptian hieroglyphs and may be earlier than
                  > the earliest Uruk materials (which aren't stratigraphically dated).
                  > They seem to be too simple to fit a useful definition of writing,
                  > but could well have provided the graphic shapes that later appeared on the Narmer palette.

                  >>> As for whether this system has any universally recognized name, such as Sumerian, proto-Sumerian, or something different, I am not too sure. Perhaps someone else can provide this piece of the puzzle.
                  >>>
                  >>> Doug Petrovich
                  >>> Toronto, Canada

                  > ------------------------------------

                  > Yahoo! Groups Links

                  --
                  --
                  Doug Weller Moderator, sci.archaeology.moderated
                  Director The Hall of Ma'at http://www.hallofmaat.com
                  Doug's Skeptical Archaeology Site: http://www.ramtops.co.uk



                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Peter T. Daniels
                  Well, it looks like writing. Doesn t look much like Proto-Elamite (which has no necessary connection with the Elamite language; it just happens to have come
                  Message 8 of 24 , Jan 5, 2012
                  • 0 Attachment
                    Well, it looks like writing. Doesn't look much like "Proto-Elamite" (which has no necessary connection with the Elamite language; it just happens to have come from the land of Elam). No reason there shouldn't be lots of writing systems that we don't happen to know about. It says four small samples of this script are now known. Let them find more!
                    --
                    Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...
                    Jersey City


                    >________________________________
                    > From: Doug Weller <dweller@...>
                    >To: Peter T. Daniels <ANE-2@yahoogroups.com>
                    >Sent: Thursday, January 5, 2012 2:07 PM
                    >Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Re: Oldest writing system
                    >
                    >
                    >

                    >
                    >Hi Peter,
                    >
                    >Thanks to you and all who have responded.
                    >Where do these Jiroft tablets fit in?
                    >
                    >http://www.chnpress.com/news/?section=2&id=6864
                    >
                    >Doug
                    >
                    >Wednesday, January 4, 2012, 5:24:03 PM, you wrote:
                    >
                    >> Replying to both Doug P. and Tom V.: please see interpolations below.
                    >>  
                    >> --
                    >> Peter T. Daniels                 grammatim@...
                    >
                    >>>________________________________
                    >>> From: Tom Verenna <tsverenna@...>
                    >>>To: "ANE-2@yahoogroups.com" <ANE-2@yahoogroups.com>
                    >>>Cc: "<ANE-2@yahoogroups.com>" <ANE-2@yahoogroups.com>
                    >>>Sent: Wednesday, January 4, 2012 11:29 AM
                    >>>Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Re: Oldest writing system
                    >>>
                    >>>Forgive my ignorance here, but wasn't the earliest writing system derived from counting tokens?  Would we consider the counting system based in tokens itself to be a written language in a sense?
                    >>  
                    >> This is the theory of Denise Schmandt-Besserat, which was seized
                    >> upon by journalists but has not found much favor with archeologists
                    >> / writing systems specialists. A lesser included claim, that the
                    >> Sumerian numerical notation was influenced by tokens, is not
                    >> implausible, but the nature and distribution of the tokens do not
                    >> correspond well with her interpretations of them in relation to the
                    >> predecessors of cuneiform signs -- her data were re-analyzed by Paul
                    >> Zimansky in a review in Journal of Field Archaeology 20 (1993): 513-17.
                    >>  
                    >> As for the definition of writing, it has until very recently been
                    >> understood strictly as a graphic system that records _language_, not
                    >> just "ideas," and unless the system has a way of notating the sounds
                    >> of a language, so that things can be written that can't be pictured,
                    >> including grammatical affixes and proper names, then it isn't writing.
                    >>  
                    >> More recently, though, enthusiasts want to label as "writing" any
                    >> graphic communication system. But since we're going to need a term
                    >> for graphic communication systems that record language, we should
                    >> retain the traditional term "writing" for that, and use the newer
                    >> term "semiotic system" for _any_ system that communicates meaning, whether via language or not.
                    >
                    >>>Thomas Verenna
                    >>>Philadelphia, pa
                    >>>
                    >>>Sent from my iPhone
                    >>>
                    >>>On Jan 4, 2012, at 10:11 AM, "Douglas Petrovich" <dp@...> wrote:
                    >>>
                    >>>> Doug,
                    >>>>
                    >>>> I think it is fair to say that the consensus is that the earliest writing system, dating to late in the Late Uruk period (subsequent to the Uruk Expansion) in its infancy, originates in Uruk, at the very time when this city mushrooms in its growth.
                    >
                    >> It's hard to dispute the Uruk origin of Mesopotamian cuneiform, but
                    >> its primacy as "world's first" has been challenged by the "tags"
                    >> from Abydos discovered by Dreyer in the 1990s that bear what appear
                    >> to be forerunners of Egyptian hieroglyphs and may be earlier than
                    >> the earliest Uruk materials (which aren't stratigraphically dated).
                    >> They seem to be too simple to fit a useful definition of writing,
                    >> but could well have provided the graphic shapes that later appeared on the Narmer palette.
                    >
                    >>>> As for whether this system has any universally recognized name, such as Sumerian, proto-Sumerian, or something different, I am not too sure. Perhaps someone else can provide this piece of the puzzle.
                    >>>>
                    >>>> Doug Petrovich
                    >>>> Toronto, Canada

                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Ian Onvlee
                    They look more like a musical notation to me.   Regards, Ian Onvlee Den Haag, the Netherlands From: Peter T. Daniels To:
                    Message 9 of 24 , Jan 5, 2012
                    • 0 Attachment
                      They look more like a musical notation to me.
                       
                      Regards,
                      Ian Onvlee
                      Den Haag, the Netherlands

                      From: Peter T. Daniels <grammatim@...>
                      To: "ANE-2@yahoogroups.com" <ANE-2@yahoogroups.com>
                      Sent: Thursday, January 5, 2012 10:33 PM
                      Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Re: Oldest writing system


                       
                      Well, it looks like writing. Doesn't look much like "Proto-Elamite" (which has no necessary connection with the Elamite language; it just happens to have come from the land of Elam). No reason there shouldn't be lots of writing systems that we don't happen to know about. It says four small samples of this script are now known. Let them find more!
                      --
                      Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...
                      Jersey City

                      >________________________________
                      > From: Doug Weller <dweller@...>
                      >To: Peter T. Daniels <ANE-2@yahoogroups.com>
                      >Sent: Thursday, January 5, 2012 2:07 PM
                      >Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Re: Oldest writing system
                      >
                      >
                      >

                      >
                      >Hi Peter,
                      >
                      >Thanks to you and all who have responded.
                      >Where do these Jiroft tablets fit in?
                      >
                      >http://www.chnpress.com/news/?section=2&id=6864
                      >
                      >Doug
                      >
                      >Wednesday, January 4, 2012, 5:24:03 PM, you wrote:
                      >
                      >> Replying to both Doug P. and Tom V.: please see interpolations below.
                      >>  
                      >> --
                      >> Peter T. Daniels                 grammatim@...
                      >
                      >>>________________________________
                      >>> From: Tom Verenna <tsverenna@...>
                      >>>To: "ANE-2@yahoogroups.com" <ANE-2@yahoogroups.com>
                      >>>Cc: "<ANE-2@yahoogroups.com>" <ANE-2@yahoogroups.com>
                      >>>Sent: Wednesday, January 4, 2012 11:29 AM
                      >>>Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Re: Oldest writing system
                      >>>
                      >>>Forgive my ignorance here, but wasn't the earliest writing system derived from counting tokens?  Would we consider the counting system based in tokens itself to be a written language in a sense?
                      >>  
                      >> This is the theory of Denise Schmandt-Besserat, which was seized
                      >> upon by journalists but has not found much favor with archeologists
                      >> / writing systems specialists. A lesser included claim, that the
                      >> Sumerian numerical notation was influenced by tokens, is not
                      >> implausible, but the nature and distribution of the tokens do not
                      >> correspond well with her interpretations of them in relation to the
                      >> predecessors of cuneiform signs -- her data were re-analyzed by Paul
                      >> Zimansky in a review in Journal of Field Archaeology 20 (1993): 513-17.
                      >>  
                      >> As for the definition of writing, it has until very recently been
                      >> understood strictly as a graphic system that records _language_, not
                      >> just "ideas," and unless the system has a way of notating the sounds
                      >> of a language, so that things can be written that can't be pictured,
                      >> including grammatical affixes and proper names, then it isn't writing.
                      >>  
                      >> More recently, though, enthusiasts want to label as "writing" any
                      >> graphic communication system. But since we're going to need a term
                      >> for graphic communication systems that record language, we should
                      >> retain the traditional term "writing" for that, and use the newer
                      >> term "semiotic system" for _any_ system that communicates meaning, whether via language or not.
                      >
                      >>>Thomas Verenna
                      >>>Philadelphia, pa
                      >>>
                      >>>Sent from my iPhone
                      >>>
                      >>>On Jan 4, 2012, at 10:11 AM, "Douglas Petrovich" <dp@...> wrote:
                      >>>
                      >>>> Doug,
                      >>>>
                      >>>> I think it is fair to say that the consensus is that the earliest writing system, dating to late in the Late Uruk period (subsequent to the Uruk Expansion) in its infancy, originates in Uruk, at the very time when this city mushrooms in its growth.
                      >
                      >> It's hard to dispute the Uruk origin of Mesopotamian cuneiform, but
                      >> its primacy as "world's first" has been challenged by the "tags"
                      >> from Abydos discovered by Dreyer in the 1990s that bear what appear
                      >> to be forerunners of Egyptian hieroglyphs and may be earlier than
                      >> the earliest Uruk materials (which aren't stratigraphically dated).
                      >> They seem to be too simple to fit a useful definition of writing,
                      >> but could well have provided the graphic shapes that later appeared on the Narmer palette.
                      >
                      >>>> As for whether this system has any universally recognized name, such as Sumerian, proto-Sumerian, or something different, I am not too sure. Perhaps someone else can provide this piece of the puzzle.
                      >>>>
                      >>>> Doug Petrovich
                      >>>> Toronto, Canada

                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]




                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • Peter T. Daniels
                      Now that s certainly a spectacular claim! Why do you say that?  -- Peter T. Daniels grammatim@verizon.net Jersey City ... [Non-text portions of this message
                      Message 10 of 24 , Jan 5, 2012
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                        Now that's certainly a spectacular claim! Why do you say that? 
                        --
                        Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...
                        Jersey City


                        >________________________________
                        > From: Ian Onvlee <sambacats@...>
                        >To: "ANE-2@yahoogroups.com" <ANE-2@yahoogroups.com>
                        >Sent: Thursday, January 5, 2012 4:53 PM
                        >Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Re: Oldest writing system
                        >
                        >
                        >

                        >
                        >They look more like a musical notation to me.

                        >Regards,
                        >Ian Onvlee
                        >Den Haag, the Netherlands
                        >
                        >From: Peter T. Daniels <grammatim@...>
                        >To: "ANE-2@yahoogroups.com" <ANE-2@yahoogroups.com>
                        >Sent: Thursday, January 5, 2012 10:33 PM
                        >Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Re: Oldest writing system
                        >
                        >Well, it looks like writing. Doesn't look much like "Proto-Elamite" (which has no necessary connection with the Elamite language; it just happens to have come from the land of Elam). No reason there shouldn't be lots of writing systems that we don't happen to know about. It says four small samples of this script are now known. Let them find more!
                        >--
                        >Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...
                        >Jersey City
                        >
                        >>________________________________
                        >> From: Doug Weller <dweller@...>
                        >>To: Peter T. Daniels <ANE-2@yahoogroups.com>
                        >>Sent: Thursday, January 5, 2012 2:07 PM
                        >>Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Re: Oldest writing system
                        >>
                        >>Hi Peter,
                        >>
                        >>Thanks to you and all who have responded.
                        >>Where do these Jiroft tablets fit in?
                        >>
                        >>http://www.chnpress.com/news/?section=2&id=6864
                        >>
                        >>Doug

                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      • Ian Onvlee
                        because of the regular forms, alluding to harmonics: Diamond, Triangles, squares, circles, verticals and such being a set of  basic notes; diamond,
                        Message 11 of 24 , Jan 5, 2012
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                          because of the regular forms, alluding to harmonics: Diamond, Triangles, squares, circles, verticals and such being a set of  basic notes; diamond, triangle, squares, circle and such with a dot (augmented notes), other symbols may denote diminished notes or other alterations, such as crescendo. I found the patterns too regular, repetitive and artifial to be normal text. Also the number of symbols are limited to 15 as far as I can see, the exact number of notes in two octaves of seven notes each plus the end octave. Thus, it could be a melody. These are the symbols I see:
                            1. Diamond
                          2. Triangle/dotted triangle
                          3. Circle/dotted circle
                          4. "Harp/Lyre"? or square with two verticals
                          5. Bow left
                          6. Bow right
                          7. Vertical/dotted vertical
                          8. Square/dotted square
                          9. Slash
                          10. Cross
                          11. Harpoon left
                          12. Harpoon right
                          13. Cross with vertical
                          14. Two intertwined bows
                          15. two stacked diamonds
                           
                          Just an idea for the possible translation: because the sequence starts with a diamond and the only double diamand is close to the end, and never has a dot, I think it is the base (say the C note) and it's octave (C'). The triangle could be the D, or Second, the circle the E, or Third the "harp" perhaps the G, or Fifth. 
                           
                          So, just to test a hunch, perhaps the five lines read as follows:
                           C–D#–D#–D-F-) (-|-F-|-A-G-D#-A-|-D-|-A#-|
                          F-|-D#-G-F-A-G-D-|-G-/-G-X-G-|?
                          A-C-C-D-F-C-C-F-C-X-?-F-F
                          |-F-D-A-G#-A-|.-D-|-?-?-?-?-?-?
                          ?-??-?-|-?-C-?-?-C-C'-??-|-? 
                            
                           
                           
                          Ian Onvlee,
                          Den Haag, Netherlands
                           

                          From: Peter T. Daniels <grammatim@...>
                          To: "ANE-2@yahoogroups.com" <ANE-2@yahoogroups.com>
                          Sent: Thursday, January 5, 2012 11:40 PM
                          Subject: Jiroft Re: [ANE-2] Re: Oldest writing system


                           
                          Now that's certainly a spectacular claim! Why do you say that? 
                          --
                          Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...
                          Jersey City

                          >________________________________
                          > From: Ian Onvlee <sambacats@...>
                          >To: "ANE-2@yahoogroups.com" <ANE-2@yahoogroups.com>
                          >Sent: Thursday, January 5, 2012 4:53 PM
                          >Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Re: Oldest writing system
                          >
                          >
                          >

                          >
                          >They look more like a musical notation to me.

                          >Regards,
                          >Ian Onvlee
                          >Den Haag, the Netherlands
                          >
                          >From: Peter T. Daniels <grammatim@...>
                          >To: "ANE-2@yahoogroups.com" <ANE-2@yahoogroups.com>
                          >Sent: Thursday, January 5, 2012 10:33 PM
                          >Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Re: Oldest writing system
                          >
                          >Well, it looks like writing. Doesn't look much like "Proto-Elamite" (which has no necessary connection with the Elamite language; it just happens to have come from the land of Elam). No reason there shouldn't be lots of writing systems that we don't happen to know about. It says four small samples of this script are now known. Let them find more!
                          >--
                          >Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...
                          >Jersey City
                          >
                          >>________________________________
                          >> From: Doug Weller <dweller@...>
                          >>To: Peter T. Daniels <ANE-2@yahoogroups.com>
                          >>Sent: Thursday, January 5, 2012 2:07 PM
                          >>Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Re: Oldest writing system
                          >>
                          >>Hi Peter,
                          >>
                          >>Thanks to you and all who have responded.
                          >>Where do these Jiroft tablets fit in?
                          >>
                          >>http://www.chnpress.com/news/?section=2&id=6864
                          >>
                          >>Doug

                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]




                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • Steve Farmer
                          ... If you read the paper you ll find that we certainly don t make that claim -- quite the opposite. We offer evidence instead that these extremely short
                          Message 12 of 24 , Jan 6, 2012
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                            Diana Gainer writes, in this rather silly thread on the "first writing system":

                            >> The Harappan script may be another proto-writing
                            >> system (Farmer, Sproat, and Witzel 2004 "The Collapse of the Indus Script Thesis: The Myth of a Literate Harappan Civilization").


                            If you read the paper you'll find that we certainly don't make that claim -- quite the opposite. We offer evidence instead that these extremely short symbol chains -- we have many thousands of them on over a dozen different types of materials, all short -- were non-linguistic in nature, not "proto-writing." The older claim (by Parpola, etc. -- made e.g. in Daniels and Bright's studies of writing systems) was that they were supposedly part of a fully functioning writing system. That claim was made based on finds going back to the 1870s and wasn't questioned until 2004, when we published our first paper on this.

                            Note now that Parpola has since backtracked and *now* claims -- pushed by the evidence that we've presented, as he noted in a conference in Japan we both attended two years ago -- that they were part of a so-called proto-writing system. But this isn't our argument. And it wasn't his either before we published our first papers.

                            On what we say, see our 2004 paper, pp. 33 ff., where we specifically argued against the proto-writing argument, long before Parpola abandoned his claim that this was a "full writing system" (in Daniel's volume) and fell back to the proto-writing argument:

                            http://www.safarmer.com/fsw2.pdf

                            Peter Daniels writes, re. our (non-existent) claims that this is "proto-writing":

                            > Please don't take Farmer/Sproat/Witzel seriously. Richard Sproat's only?/best? argument that Indus writing isn't writing is that the blazons used in heraldry would then have to be considered a writing system (presented at the 2010 Berkeley Linguistic Society meeting, not yet published), and since it isn't, therefore that shouldn't be. The claim was so absurd that no one in the audience could even figure out how to challenge it.

                            Grotesque misreporting, showing that Daniels hasn't read our papers. This certainly is NOT Richard Sproat's argument.

                            It helps to read our papers before you say anything, Peter. Start with our 2004 paper, which was covered in _Science_ magazine and has been downloaded many hundreds of thousands of times in reprints from one server alone (see above link). We discuss blazons in that paper, but certainly not the way you claim.

                            Our data have been presented at a long string of conferences held at Harvard (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004), in Kyoto (2005, 2009), at Stanford University (special Linguistic Society of America conference on our work, 2007, attended by many writing specialists) at the U. of Bologna, and many other places.

                            I would *love* to hear Daniel's arguments that a society that produced ludicrously short symbol chains over a 600 year period -- but left not one "text" behind, despite supposedly being fully literate (as Parpola argued in Daniel's 1996 volume, but no longer accepts himself) -- was a full writing (i.e., speech encoding) system.

                            The old claim that the Indus DID write long texts but only on perishable materials is trivial to debunk: we don't know of any literate society anywhere in the world that supposedly wrote long texts on perishable materials for hundreds of years but never left a *single* "text" behind on durable materials.

                            Steve Farmer
                          • Jgibson
                            ... Why is it silly? And speaking of those who do not read things, or pay attention to what they read, PLEASE SIGN YOUR POSTS ACCORDING TO OUR PROTOCOLS!
                            Message 13 of 24 , Jan 6, 2012
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                              On 1/6/2012 1:20 PM, Steve Farmer wrote:
                              > Diana Gainer writes, in this rather silly thread on the "first writing system":

                              Why is it silly?

                              And speaking of those who do not read things, or pay attention to what
                              they read, PLEASE SIGN YOUR POSTS ACCORDING TO OUR PROTOCOLS!

                              Jeffrey Gibson

                              -- --- Jeffrey B. Gibson D.Phil. Oxon. 1500 W. Pratt Blvd Chicago, Il.
                              jgibson000@...
                            • Steve Farmer
                              ... Silly among other reasons since 1. The so-called Mas-d Azilian pebble script , supposedly going back to ca. 10,000 ybp, hasn t been taken seriously by
                              Message 14 of 24 , Jan 6, 2012
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                                On Jan 6, 2012, at 11:51 AM, Jgibson wrote:

                                > On 1/6/2012 1:20 PM, Steve Farmer wrote:
                                >> Diana Gainer writes, in this rather silly thread on the "first writing system":
                                >
                                > Why is it silly?
                                >
                                > And speaking of those who do not read things, or pay attention to what
                                > they read, PLEASE SIGN YOUR POSTS ACCORDING TO OUR PROTOCOLS!
                                >
                                > Jeffrey Gibson
                                >
                                > -- --- Jeffrey B. Gibson D.Phil. Oxon. 1500 W. Pratt Blvd Chicago, Il.
                                > jgibson000@...

                                Silly among other reasons since

                                1. The so-called "Mas-d'Azilian pebble script", supposedly going back to ca. 10,000 ybp, hasn't been taken seriously by anyone since the first decade of the 20th century. See the references Trudy provided, which I sent her off-List.

                                2. The inchoate discussion of "Jiroft writing" is equally silly, since it has been known in the field since 2007 that the inscriptions in question are obvious modern fakes. That has been discussed among many others by me (I published the first high-resolution photo of the inscriptions online in 2007, on the Indo-Eurasian Research List, which were leaked to me by archaeologists on the project who knew they were fakes), by Richard Sproat, and -- more importantly -- by specialists on proto-Elamite and linear Elamite like Jakob Dahl. Jakob discussed this both at the August, 2007 Stanford Conference I alluded to earlier on our work and in Europe that summer.

                                Much of this was reported in a 2007 article in Science, where Jakob as I recall reported to Science reporter Andrew Lawler that they were obvious fakes. Archaeologists with a stake in Iranian digs have a hard time saying such things if they want to dig. The same goes for archaeologists who question the Indus "script" myth.

                                Regards,

                                Steve Farmer, Ph.D.
                                Palo Alto, California
                                http://www.safarmer.com
                              • Peter T. Daniels
                                Is this really an ANE topic?   Who is this Daniel you keep referring to?   Of course I have read Farmer/Sproat/Witzel. I am not aware of any other
                                Message 15 of 24 , Jan 6, 2012
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                                  Is this really an ANE topic?
                                   
                                  Who is this "Daniel" you keep referring to?
                                   
                                  Of course I have read Farmer/Sproat/Witzel. I am not aware of any other publications on the question, so I am not aware that I can have read "papers" on the topic. Conference presentations are not papers that can be consulted.

                                  What does "proto-writing system" mean?

                                  You were not at BLS, so you don't know _what_ Sproat said at that meeting.

                                  Coverage in _Science_, or in _Nature_ or in _PNAS_, is hardly an accolade concerning any linguistic topic. On the rare occasions when a language-oriented paper is submitted to them -- and usually they're by non-linguists of many stripes (biologists, physicists, computer scientists) -- their peer-reviewing system apparently fails them utterly, and the most arrant nonsense is published purporting to shed light on (typically) language classification.

                                  What do you think the Indus symbol-sequences are, if not "texts"? According to whose law is a literate culture required to produce lengthy texts on non-perishable materials in order for their graphic semiotic system to count as "writing"? By that criterion, the [ObANE] Hebrew language had no writing system before the 1st or 2nd c. BCE.

                                  --
                                  Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...
                                  Jersey City


                                  >________________________________
                                  > From: Steve Farmer <saf@...>
                                  >To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
                                  >Cc: Steve Farmer <saf@...>; "rws@... Sproat" <rws@...>
                                  >Sent: Friday, January 6, 2012 2:20 PM
                                  >Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Oldest writing system
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >

                                  >
                                  >Diana Gainer writes, in this rather silly thread on the "first writing system":
                                  >
                                  >>> The Harappan script may be another proto-writing
                                  >>> system (Farmer, Sproat, and Witzel 2004 "The Collapse of the Indus Script Thesis: The Myth of a Literate Harappan Civilization").
                                  >
                                  >If you read the paper you'll find that we certainly don't make that claim -- quite the opposite. We offer evidence instead that these extremely short symbol chains -- we have many thousands of them on over a dozen different types of materials, all short -- were non-linguistic in nature, not "proto-writing." The older claim (by Parpola, etc. -- made e.g. in Daniels and Bright's studies of writing systems) was that they were supposedly part of a fully functioning writing system. That claim was made based on finds going back to the 1870s and wasn't questioned until 2004, when we published our first paper on this.
                                  >
                                  >Note now that Parpola has since backtracked and *now* claims -- pushed by the evidence that we've presented, as he noted in a conference in Japan we both attended two years ago -- that they were part of a so-called proto-writing system. But this isn't our argument. And it wasn't his either before we published our first papers.
                                  >
                                  >On what we say, see our 2004 paper, pp. 33 ff., where we specifically argued against the proto-writing argument, long before Parpola abandoned his claim that this was a "full writing system" (in Daniel's volume) and fell back to the proto-writing argument:
                                  >
                                  >http://www.safarmer.com/fsw2.pdf
                                  >
                                  >Peter Daniels writes, re. our (non-existent) claims that this is "proto-writing":
                                  >
                                  >> Please don't take Farmer/Sproat/Witzel seriously. Richard Sproat's only?/best? argument that Indus writing isn't writing is that the blazons used in heraldry would then have to be considered a writing system (presented at the 2010 Berkeley Linguistic Society meeting, not yet published), and since it isn't, therefore that shouldn't be. The claim was so absurd that no one in the audience could even figure out how to challenge it.
                                  >
                                  >Grotesque misreporting, showing that Daniels hasn't read our papers. This certainly is NOT Richard Sproat's argument.
                                  >
                                  >It helps to read our papers before you say anything, Peter. Start with our 2004 paper, which was covered in _Science_ magazine and has been downloaded many hundreds of thousands of times in reprints from one server alone (see above link). We discuss blazons in that paper, but certainly not the way you claim.
                                  >
                                  >Our data have been presented at a long string of conferences held at Harvard (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004), in Kyoto (2005, 2009), at Stanford University (special Linguistic Society of America conference on our work, 2007, attended by many writing specialists) at the U. of Bologna, and many other places.
                                  >
                                  >I would *love* to hear Daniel's arguments that a society that produced ludicrously short symbol chains over a 600 year period -- but left not one "text" behind, despite supposedly being fully literate (as Parpola argued in Daniel's 1996 volume, but no longer accepts himself) -- was a full writing (i.e., speech encoding) system.
                                  >
                                  >The old claim that the Indus DID write long texts but only on perishable materials is trivial to debunk: we don't know of any literate society anywhere in the world that supposedly wrote long texts on perishable materials for hundreds of years but never left a *single* "text" behind on durable materials.
                                  >
                                  >Steve Farmer
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >

                                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                • richardwsproat
                                  I would add two further comments to Steve s comments here, both related to Daniel s misrepresentation of what I said in the Berkeley talk (and elsewhere).
                                  Message 16 of 24 , Jan 6, 2012
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                                    I would add two further comments to Steve's comments here, both related to Daniel's misrepresentation of what I said in the Berkeley talk (and elsewhere).

                                    First of all, to understand the context of the point about heraldry that I was making, one needs to understand another set of papers not cited by Steve that deal with Rajesh Rao's claims about statistical evidence for the linguistic nature of the Indus symbols. My own discussion of this can be seen in a "Last Words" piece in Computational Linguistics (http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/coli_a_00011) and subsequent replies by Rao and colleagues (also Rob Lee and colleagues) and my reply to their reply. The essence of the claims was not that heraldry should be considered writing, which is obviously absurd, or that since heraldry isn't writing therefore the Indus symbols should not be. The point, which clearly Daniels did not understand, was that if one wants to take such statistical arguments seriously, then one also has to deal with the fact that many systems that we KNOW are not writing, "look like" writing from the point of view of those statistical methods. I can't speak for the Berkeley Linguistics Society audience, but the audience of computational linguists at the Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing conference in Singapore the previous year clearly understood what I was arguing.

                                    Second, the BLS meeting that Daniels referred to also featured an invited talk by him. During that talk he mentioned the Indus symbols and, practically looking directly at me, emphasized that they "ARE Dravidian". The evidence for that conclusion is, quite frankly, pathetic, and the fact that Daniels believes that the evidence is good makes me wonder about the standards of evidence being applied.

                                    Richard Sproat
                                    Center for Spoken Language Understanding
                                    Oregon Health & Science University

                                    --- In ANE-2@yahoogroups.com, Steve Farmer <saf@...> wrote:
                                    >
                                    > Diana Gainer writes, in this rather silly thread on the "first writing system":
                                    >
                                    > >> The Harappan script may be another proto-writing
                                    > >> system (Farmer, Sproat, and Witzel 2004 "The Collapse of the Indus Script Thesis: The Myth of a Literate Harappan Civilization").
                                    >
                                    >
                                    > If you read the paper you'll find that we certainly don't make that claim -- quite the opposite. We offer evidence instead that these extremely short symbol chains -- we have many thousands of them on over a dozen different types of materials, all short -- were non-linguistic in nature, not "proto-writing." The older claim (by Parpola, etc. -- made e.g. in Daniels and Bright's studies of writing systems) was that they were supposedly part of a fully functioning writing system. That claim was made based on finds going back to the 1870s and wasn't questioned until 2004, when we published our first paper on this.
                                    >
                                    > Note now that Parpola has since backtracked and *now* claims -- pushed by the evidence that we've presented, as he noted in a conference in Japan we both attended two years ago -- that they were part of a so-called proto-writing system. But this isn't our argument. And it wasn't his either before we published our first papers.
                                    >
                                    > On what we say, see our 2004 paper, pp. 33 ff., where we specifically argued against the proto-writing argument, long before Parpola abandoned his claim that this was a "full writing system" (in Daniel's volume) and fell back to the proto-writing argument:
                                    >
                                    > http://www.safarmer.com/fsw2.pdf
                                    >
                                    > Peter Daniels writes, re. our (non-existent) claims that this is "proto-writing":
                                    >
                                    > > Please don't take Farmer/Sproat/Witzel seriously. Richard Sproat's only?/best? argument that Indus writing isn't writing is that the blazons used in heraldry would then have to be considered a writing system (presented at the 2010 Berkeley Linguistic Society meeting, not yet published), and since it isn't, therefore that shouldn't be. The claim was so absurd that no one in the audience could even figure out how to challenge it.
                                    >
                                    > Grotesque misreporting, showing that Daniels hasn't read our papers. This certainly is NOT Richard Sproat's argument.
                                    >
                                    > It helps to read our papers before you say anything, Peter. Start with our 2004 paper, which was covered in _Science_ magazine and has been downloaded many hundreds of thousands of times in reprints from one server alone (see above link). We discuss blazons in that paper, but certainly not the way you claim.
                                    >
                                    > Our data have been presented at a long string of conferences held at Harvard (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004), in Kyoto (2005, 2009), at Stanford University (special Linguistic Society of America conference on our work, 2007, attended by many writing specialists) at the U. of Bologna, and many other places.
                                    >
                                    > I would *love* to hear Daniel's arguments that a society that produced ludicrously short symbol chains over a 600 year period -- but left not one "text" behind, despite supposedly being fully literate (as Parpola argued in Daniel's 1996 volume, but no longer accepts himself) -- was a full writing (i.e., speech encoding) system.
                                    >
                                    > The old claim that the Indus DID write long texts but only on perishable materials is trivial to debunk: we don't know of any literate society anywhere in the world that supposedly wrote long texts on perishable materials for hundreds of years but never left a *single* "text" behind on durable materials.
                                    >
                                    > Steve Farmer
                                    >
                                  • Steve Farmer
                                    ... You apparently think it is one, since I was just responding to your misreporting of Richard Sproat s position. Richard will respond himself in a moment. I
                                    Message 17 of 24 , Jan 6, 2012
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                                      On Jan 6, 2012, at 12:34 PM, Peter T. Daniels wrote:

                                      > Is this really an ANE topic?

                                      You apparently think it is one, since I was just responding to your misreporting of Richard Sproat's position. Richard will respond himself in a moment. I guess not seeing that there is a response you now want to make this a non-ANE topic?

                                      But it is in fact one, since good arguments can be made that literacy in the ancient world through at least the end of the third millennium BCE -- and indeed much further -- was an exclusively ANE phenomenon. No writing east of Elam once proto-Elamite disappeared at the beginning of the 3rd millennium in Central Asia, the SE Iranian plateau, in the Persian Gulf (Dan Potts agrees), and certainly not in the Indus Valley. Much evidence for all this, which clearly raises big questions about ANE.

                                      > Who is this "Daniel" you keep referring to?

                                      Did I leave an 's' out of your name someplace in a typo? Sorry about that, and thanks for pointing out something critical. I know your work -- evidently a lot better than you know that of me or my collaborators.

                                      > Of course I have read Farmer/Sproat/Witzel. I am not aware of any other publications on the question, so I am not aware that I can have read "papers" on the topic. Conference presentations are not papers that can be consulted.

                                      You've read it? I doubt you read it carefully, since you grossly misreport our views. The paper again is here:

                                      http://www.safarmer.com/fsw2.pdf

                                      > What does "proto-writing system" mean?

                                      Obviously a long discussion. To give a quick-and-dirty definition that works, and is in line with the late Peter Damerow's work: a system of symbols that eventually reached full speech-encoding capabilities. We argue specifically, pace the false claims made on ANE-2 earlier today, that there is strong evidence that the Indus system was not moving in that direction after over 600 years of use, despite the fact that the Harappans were in trade contact throughout that time with civilizations that clearly did have fully literate systems.

                                      > You were not at BLS, so you don't know _what_ Sproat said at that meeting.

                                      I received reports the next day about what both Sproat said AND you said -- see Richard's upcoming post on that. Odd that you don't mention the strong opinions you gave that day on the so-called Indus script, which few competent linguists today think could be a "script." (You claimed it encoded "Dravidian," per Parpola's OLDER views.) You've clearly never studied the materials in question.

                                      >
                                      > Coverage in _Science_, or in _Nature_ or in _PNAS_, is hardly an accolade concerning any linguistic topic. On the rare occasions when a language-oriented paper is submitted to them -- and usually they're by non-linguists of many stripes (biologists, physicists, computer scientists) -- their peer-reviewing system apparently fails them utterly, and the most arrant nonsense is published purporting to shed light on (typically) language classification.
                                      >
                                      > What do you think the Indus symbol-sequences are, if not "texts"? According to whose law is a literate culture required to produce lengthy texts on non-perishable materials in order for their graphic semiotic system to count as "writing"? By that criterion, the [ObANE] Hebrew language had no writing system before the 1st or 2nd c. BCE.

                                      Strings of kudurru symbols and dozens of other types of non-linguistic symbols also "look like writing" superficially -- but of course aren't.

                                      Since we've discussed this issue many times in print, and you've never published anything at all on Indus materials, let me ask you YOUR reasons for claiming that these ludicrously short symbol strings are part of a "full writing system", as Parpola used to believe (he doesn't anymore) but you apparently do.

                                      Good scholarshop doesn't depend on repeating without argument something you found in someone else's secondary studies.

                                      Regards,

                                      Steve Farmer
                                      Palo Alto, California
                                      The Cultural Modeling Research Group
                                      http://www.safarmer.com
                                    • Peter T. Daniels
                                      Is this an ANE topic?   Rao s claims about statistical evidence for the linguistic nature of the Indus symbols are self-evidently, and evident to
                                      Message 18 of 24 , Jan 6, 2012
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                                        Is this an ANE topic?
                                         
                                        Rao's "claims about statistical evidence for the linguistic nature of the Indus symbols" are self-evidently, and evident to apparently all but the editors who published them, utterly irrelevant to the study of Indus writing and hardly worth detailed refutation.
                                         
                                        Richard was, then, at BLS apparently donning straw arms to combat a straw man. I'm not surprised that nearly two years later the only impression I have of the talk is as I said.

                                        The evidence for Dravidian being the most likely of the possible languages for Indus writing is gathered in Parpola's 1994 book. Curiously, a recently-published Harvard dissertation, which was delayed for years by the intransigence of Witzel, argues that it can't possibly be Dravidian but most likely is Munda.

                                        --
                                        Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...
                                        Jersey City


                                        >________________________________
                                        > From: richardwsproat <rws@...>
                                        >To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
                                        >Sent: Friday, January 6, 2012 3:53 PM
                                        >Subject: [ANE-2] Re: Oldest writing system
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >

                                        >
                                        >I would add two further comments to Steve's comments here, both related to Daniel's misrepresentation of what I said in the Berkeley talk (and elsewhere).
                                        >
                                        >First of all, to understand the context of the point about heraldry that I was making, one needs to understand another set of papers not cited by Steve that deal with Rajesh Rao's claims about statistical evidence for the linguistic nature of the Indus symbols. My own discussion of this can be seen in a "Last Words" piece in Computational Linguistics (http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/coli_a_00011) and subsequent replies by Rao and colleagues (also Rob Lee and colleagues) and my reply to their reply. The essence of the claims was not that heraldry should be considered writing, which is obviously absurd, or that since heraldry isn't writing therefore the Indus symbols should not be. The point, which clearly Daniels did not understand, was that if one wants to take such statistical arguments seriously, then one also has to deal with the fact that many systems that we KNOW are not writing, "look like" writing from the point of view of those
                                        statistical methods. I can't speak for the Berkeley Linguistics Society audience, but the audience of computational linguists at the Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing conference in Singapore the previous year clearly understood what I was arguing.
                                        >
                                        >Second, the BLS meeting that Daniels referred to also featured an invited talk by him. During that talk he mentioned the Indus symbols and, practically looking directly at me, emphasized that they "ARE Dravidian". The evidence for that conclusion is, quite frankly, pathetic, and the fact that Daniels believes that the evidence is good makes me wonder about the standards of evidence being applied.
                                        >
                                        >Richard Sproat
                                        >Center for Spoken Language Understanding
                                        >Oregon Health & Science University
                                        >
                                        >--- In ANE-2@yahoogroups.com, Steve Farmer <saf@...> wrote:
                                        >>
                                        >> Diana Gainer writes, in this rather silly thread on the "first writing system":
                                        >>
                                        >> >> The Harappan script may be another proto-writing
                                        >> >> system (Farmer, Sproat, and Witzel 2004 "The Collapse of the Indus Script Thesis: The Myth of a Literate Harappan Civilization").
                                        >>
                                        >>
                                        >> If you read the paper you'll find that we certainly don't make that claim -- quite the opposite. We offer evidence instead that these extremely short symbol chains -- we have many thousands of them on over a dozen different types of materials, all short -- were non-linguistic in nature, not "proto-writing." The older claim (by Parpola, etc. -- made e.g. in Daniels and Bright's studies of writing systems) was that they were supposedly part of a fully functioning writing system. That claim was made based on finds going back to the 1870s and wasn't questioned until 2004, when we published our first paper on this.
                                        >>
                                        >> Note now that Parpola has since backtracked and *now* claims -- pushed by the evidence that we've presented, as he noted in a conference in Japan we both attended two years ago -- that they were part of a so-called proto-writing system. But this isn't our argument. And it wasn't his either before we published our first papers.
                                        >>
                                        >> On what we say, see our 2004 paper, pp. 33 ff., where we specifically argued against the proto-writing argument, long before Parpola abandoned his claim that this was a "full writing system" (in Daniel's volume) and fell back to the proto-writing argument:
                                        >>
                                        >> http://www.safarmer.com/fsw2.pdf
                                        >>
                                        >> Peter Daniels writes, re. our (non-existent) claims that this is "proto-writing":
                                        >>
                                        >> > Please don't take Farmer/Sproat/Witzel seriously. Richard Sproat's only?/best? argument that Indus writing isn't writing is that the blazons used in heraldry would then have to be considered a writing system (presented at the 2010 Berkeley Linguistic Society meeting, not yet published), and since it isn't, therefore that shouldn't be. The claim was so absurd that no one in the audience could even figure out how to challenge it.
                                        >>
                                        >> Grotesque misreporting, showing that Daniels hasn't read our papers. This certainly is NOT Richard Sproat's argument.
                                        >>
                                        >> It helps to read our papers before you say anything, Peter. Start with our 2004 paper, which was covered in _Science_ magazine and has been downloaded many hundreds of thousands of times in reprints from one server alone (see above link). We discuss blazons in that paper, but certainly not the way you claim.
                                        >>
                                        >> Our data have been presented at a long string of conferences held at Harvard (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004), in Kyoto (2005, 2009), at Stanford University (special Linguistic Society of America conference on our work, 2007, attended by many writing specialists) at the U. of Bologna, and many other places.
                                        >>
                                        >> I would *love* to hear Daniel's arguments that a society that produced ludicrously short symbol chains over a 600 year period -- but left not one "text" behind, despite supposedly being fully literate (as Parpola argued in Daniel's 1996 volume, but no longer accepts himself) -- was a full writing (i.e., speech encoding) system.
                                        >>
                                        >> The old claim that the Indus DID write long texts but only on perishable materials is trivial to debunk: we don't know of any literate society anywhere in the world that supposedly wrote long texts on perishable materials for hundreds of years but never left a *single* "text" behind on durable materials.
                                        >>
                                        >> Steve Farmer

                                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                      • Peter T. Daniels
                                        There is nothing meriting a response in this entirely ad hominem posting (why was it permitted?), except that misspelling someone s name every time it occurs
                                        Message 19 of 24 , Jan 6, 2012
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                                          There is nothing meriting a response in this entirely ad hominem posting (why was it permitted?), except that "misspelling" someone's name every time it occurs is not "a typo someplace." 
                                          --
                                          Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...
                                          Jersey City


                                          >________________________________
                                          > From: Steve Farmer <saf@...>
                                          >To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
                                          >Cc: Steve Farmer <saf@...>
                                          >Sent: Friday, January 6, 2012 4:07 PM
                                          >Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Oldest writing system
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >

                                          >
                                          >
                                          >On Jan 6, 2012, at 12:34 PM, Peter T. Daniels wrote:
                                          >
                                          >> Is this really an ANE topic?
                                          >
                                          >You apparently think it is one, since I was just responding to your misreporting of Richard Sproat's position. Richard will respond himself in a moment. I guess not seeing that there is a response you now want to make this a non-ANE topic?
                                          >
                                          >But it is in fact one, since good arguments can be made that literacy in the ancient world through at least the end of the third millennium BCE -- and indeed much further -- was an exclusively ANE phenomenon. No writing east of Elam once proto-Elamite disappeared at the beginning of the 3rd millennium in Central Asia, the SE Iranian plateau, in the Persian Gulf (Dan Potts agrees), and certainly not in the Indus Valley. Much evidence for all this, which clearly raises big questions about ANE.
                                          >
                                          >> Who is this "Daniel" you keep referring to?
                                          >
                                          >Did I leave an 's' out of your name someplace in a typo? Sorry about that, and thanks for pointing out something critical. I know your work -- evidently a lot better than you know that of me or my collaborators.
                                          >
                                          >> Of course I have read Farmer/Sproat/Witzel. I am not aware of any other publications on the question, so I am not aware that I can have read "papers" on the topic. Conference presentations are not papers that can be consulted.
                                          >
                                          >You've read it? I doubt you read it carefully, since you grossly misreport our views. The paper again is here:
                                          >
                                          >http://www.safarmer.com/fsw2.pdf
                                          >
                                          >> What does "proto-writing system" mean?
                                          >
                                          >Obviously a long discussion. To give a quick-and-dirty definition that works, and is in line with the late Peter Damerow's work: a system of symbols that eventually reached full speech-encoding capabilities. We argue specifically, pace the false claims made on ANE-2 earlier today, that there is strong evidence that the Indus system was not moving in that direction after over 600 years of use, despite the fact that the Harappans were in trade contact throughout that time with civilizations that clearly did have fully literate systems.
                                          >
                                          >> You were not at BLS, so you don't know _what_ Sproat said at that meeting.
                                          >
                                          >I received reports the next day about what both Sproat said AND you said -- see Richard's upcoming post on that. Odd that you don't mention the strong opinions you gave that day on the so-called Indus script, which few competent linguists today think could be a "script." (You claimed it encoded "Dravidian," per Parpola's OLDER views.) You've clearly never studied the materials in question.
                                          >
                                          >>
                                          >> Coverage in _Science_, or in _Nature_ or in _PNAS_, is hardly an accolade concerning any linguistic topic. On the rare occasions when a language-oriented paper is submitted to them -- and usually they're by non-linguists of many stripes (biologists, physicists, computer scientists) -- their peer-reviewing system apparently fails them utterly, and the most arrant nonsense is published purporting to shed light on (typically) language classification.
                                          >>
                                          >> What do you think the Indus symbol-sequences are, if not "texts"? According to whose law is a literate culture required to produce lengthy texts on non-perishable materials in order for their graphic semiotic system to count as "writing"? By that criterion, the [ObANE] Hebrew language had no writing system before the 1st or 2nd c. BCE.
                                          >
                                          >Strings of kudurru symbols and dozens of other types of non-linguistic symbols also "look like writing" superficially -- but of course aren't.
                                          >
                                          >Since we've discussed this issue many times in print, and you've never published anything at all on Indus materials, let me ask you YOUR reasons for claiming that these ludicrously short symbol strings are part of a "full writing system", as Parpola used to believe (he doesn't anymore) but you apparently do.
                                          >
                                          >Good scholarshop doesn't depend on repeating without argument something you found in someone else's secondary studies.
                                          >
                                          >Regards,
                                          >
                                          >Steve Farmer
                                          >Palo Alto, California
                                          >The Cultural Modeling Research Group
                                          >http://www.safarmer.com
                                          >
                                          >

                                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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