Exhibition: “Visible Language: Inventions of Writing in the Ancient Middle East and Beyond” (Sep 28, 2010 – March 6, 2011)

There is still time to visit this most interesting exhibition at the Oriental Institute Museum in Chicago (Sep 28, 2010 – March 6, 2011). It presents a series of artifacts that testify the most ancient forms of writing in Mesopotamia, Egypt and also in Meso-America and China. For all of those lucky enough to be able to go there, we give you here just a hint of what one can find there:

«Among the items on display will be the earliest cuneiform tablets from Mesopotamia (today’s Iraq), dating to about 3200 BC, which are on loan from the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin. They have never before been exhibited in the United States. The pictographic signs, a precursor to writing, are part of a writing system that developed into cuneiform, a wedge-shaped script that was incised on clay tablets. Examples of that form of writing will also be exhibited.»

Piece of an ivory box incised with a personal name Hery-netcheru, his title, "Supervisor of the servants of the Ceremonial Beard," and name of King Djet.

«Visitors will also learn the most recent theories about the origins of the alphabet. Long believed to have been invented in Phoenicia in about 1000 BC, the earliest alphabetic texts are now those found in the Sinai. This earliest alphabet was derived from Egyptian hieroglyphs as early as 1800 BC, well over five hundred years earlier than had been known. Examples of early alphabetic texts in Proto-Sinaitic, Old South Arabian, and Hebrew are included in the exhibit.»

Visit the exhibition’s website at:


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