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Astronomy and Writing

16 January 2014

At http://ancientworldblog.blogspot.com/2005_02_01_archive.html … 'Origins of Writing: Danube scripts led to Egyptian hieroglyphs' (confirmation by pottery comparison). The case appears to be weak and the pottery comparisons are interesting but not definitive. However, it is in complete contrast to the Blue Collar Scientist who would have it that there was no evidence the Sumerians had any interest in astronomy.

Basically, Danube scripts date from between 4000 and 3000BC, during the Copper or Chalcolithic Age. The  claim is that they were the models for the Djer wood and ivory tablets from Saqqara and Abydos (c 3000BC). The scripts aren't too obviously alike and it doesn't occur to the author that both sets of people were looking at the same phenomena in the sky and therefore recording it in a similar fashion. Never the less, an interesting idea and he provides two images of planispheres from Transylvania in Romania and Lepedcki Var in Bulgaria – with a Thracian 'spindle whorl' that has been converted into a kind of planisphere, all good examples of Danube script. Similar symbols can be found on the Egyptian tablets (images provided) from the reign of Djer in dynasty One. It is the star groupings that are similar – but does this necessary imply a common origin? There are in fact more symbols on the Djer tablets and the author is forced to think in terms of the Danube script being diffused into the Near East and the Djer examples being more developed than the former examples. Nice try I suppose – nothing like being sceptical. The author then provides images of pottery and his readers to compare the patterns between pottery from the Dneiper, Dneister, Danube, and those of Sumeria and Egypt. See what you think.

The Danube script and Egyptian heiroglyphs have a common origin – in the sky. The Danube script is most similar to the rudimentary heiroglyphs of the reign of Djer and they have nothing to do with counting tokens in Mesopotamia. The consensus view is that writing was developed to aid in counting items passing through the hands of merchants in Sumeria and elsewhere. Not so says the author – there is absolutely zero connection. He goes on to quote from two books by German author Harald Haarman (publsihed in Munich). According to Maria Carmela Betro the first specimens of Sumerian writing are pictograms (or picture writing symbols) and are not tokens. According to Wikipedia (under 'writing') the first examples occur in cave drawings from France and Iberia but the first (known) examples of structural linear writing have been found in the lower Danube valley (around 5000BC). What is the common denominator between Europe and Mesopotamia, and the Levant and Egypt. Astronomy and sky watching.

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