Questions tagged [writing]

Questions related to the means of human communication using signs and symbols representing language or emotions, which can be preserved physically or electronically.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
18
votes
4answers
3k views
+50

Did the Romans have writing desks?

I am just rekindling my interest in Ancient Rome, and reading Rome:Its people, life and customs by Ugo Enrico Paoli. He goes into considerable detail about tables, but only dining tables. There is a ...
6
votes
1answer
708 views

Why and when were ancient Egyptian hieroglyph phonograms used?

There are writings on the walls of some Egyptian temples of Hellenistic period written in Egyptian hieroglyph phonograms. However it was strange for me to know that these are Greek texts actually. ...
122
votes
2answers
13k views

How do historians and linguists know how to pronounce the names from non-phonetic scripts?

If we take hieroglyphic writings like the Egyptian one, an Egyptologist knows that this hieroglyph must be interpreted as Nefertiti. Or we can see in the following Sumerian cuneiform script that ...
12
votes
3answers
1k views

What is the most advanced nonliterate society?

I got to thinking some more recently about the interrelation of societal advancement and information availability. That got me wondering about the limits. In short, what is the most advanced society ...
18
votes
3answers
690 views

Was the alphabet invented only once?

It's a widely repeated claim that the alphabet was invented only once: Britannica: The invention of the alphabet is a major achievement of Western culture. It is also unique; the alphabet was ...
13
votes
1answer
648 views

Was there self-censorship in private correspondence in the early 19th Century?

I've been reading collections of letters and journals (generally relating to the Napoleonic Wars) published in the first half of the 19th century. Often these contain words that have been partially ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

What was used for writing in 15th century Europe?

What sort of pens/quills would be used? Would paper, cover and bindings be readily available?
112
votes
6answers
19k views

Did China ever consider a phonetic writing system?

I was surprised to learn the following about the Japanese and Korean languages: Japanese used a lot of Chinese characters in their language and had no phonetic system, until around the year 800 when ...
3
votes
0answers
62 views

Was it ever common practice to make “wax” seals out of bread (especially in the mid-1800s)?

In Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Purloined Letter", there is this quote in which a seal on a letter is replaced by bread: D-- rushed to a casement, threw it open, and looked out. In the ...
1
vote
0answers
125 views

Did “The Cosmic Race” inform “The Anthropophagic Manifesto”?

José Vasconcelos published The Cosmic Race in 1925. In his view Mexico could construct a new, better race from the diverse origins of its people. Oswald de Andrade published his Anthropophagic ...
3
votes
2answers
104 views

For whom would this priest write a long geographical report on his parish?

In 1777, the assistant pastor of Tamazula, Nueva Vizcaya composed a detailed report on the local geography, climate, natural history, and mineralogy, listing the many plants and animals and few ...
24
votes
8answers
9k views

Why did people not tend to keep records or consider future consequences until very recently?

When I'm talking about recordkeeping, I don't mean cave paintings, or anything like that. Instead, I'm referencing writing down how something was repaired onto the object so people know what changes ...
8
votes
1answer
555 views

Where and when has Thucydides been studied?

Thucydides' history of the Peloponnesian war between Sparta and Athens, of which he was a contemporary and participating general, is studied still today in war academies and by political scientists ...
13
votes
3answers
3k views

Does modern scholarship accept an Ethiopian or Nubian origin for Egyptian hieroglyphs?

Diodorus Siculus made the claim that the Hieroglyphs were actually an Ethiopian script, which was held sacred by the Egyptians and was learned and transmitted only within the priestly families of ...
1
vote
0answers
106 views

Where does the Kurrent letter-form for E come from?

The old German cursives, both Suetterlin and Kurrent, have several peculiar features compared to modern German cursive handwriting. One is a double-stroke letter-shape for E. Most introductory ...
2
votes
0answers
84 views

What was the exact nature, extent and use of Near Eastern clay tokens? [closed]

My current knowledge of Near Eastern clay tokens is: They were developed and used in the Fertile Crescent and Anatolia from 8000 BC They were an accounting system with a one to one correspondence ...
24
votes
1answer
7k views

Why did quill pens persist until the early 19th century despite the capacity to make metal dip pens?

I recently toured Jefferson's Monticello and I was struck during the tour of the library by the description of some of the challenges that Jefferson faced using quill pens. This seemed particularly ...
4
votes
1answer
181 views

Where to find a comprehensive list of proto-cuneiform Sumerian glyphs?

I'm looking for representations and meanings of the logographs of the Uruk period (3500–3000 BC), such as those on the Kish tablet. I've only been able to find a few examples, but over 1000 are known. ...
3
votes
2answers
442 views

Did Romans keep tax records of individuals in Palestine around Jesus' lifetime?

This question in Christianity.SE asks how would Jesus write his name in civil records. This answer denies (based on the lack of positive evidence) that Jesus ever wrote his name in a civil record. ...
4
votes
0answers
537 views

In what period were signature rubrics used?

A rubric is a flourish embellishing a signature; it's both decorative and a security feature. At least with regard to European languages, signatures are still used but rubrics were, as far as I can ...
56
votes
15answers
13k views

Are there any important biographies of nobodies?

Biographies usually cover interesting people who said and did notable things. I'm curious about lives notable just for their contexts: the stories of unremarkable people in historically remarkable ...
16
votes
3answers
3k views

What is the history of the check mark / tick mark?

Wikipedia has an interesting article on the meaning of the check mark "✓" in different cultures. In the English-speaking world, "✓" generally has a positive connotation — "yes, OK, correct, ...
10
votes
3answers
638 views

What was the primary motivation for a historical figure like Xenophon to create an extensive collection of written material?

Xenophon of Athens created a large amount of written material even by today's standards. Did he create this work knowing it would be read by future generations, or was it for his own satisfaction? I ...
35
votes
1answer
8k views

Why did the Republic of China retract its simplified Chinese characters?

The image below shows part of the list of simplified Chinese characters introduced by the Republic of China Department of Education in 1935. They were retracted in 1936, so China continued to use ...
4
votes
0answers
402 views

Are there recommended practices for writing about oppressed peoples?

This question is about responsible historiography. History as written by winners tends to devalue and misrepresent the experiences of subordinate groups (see Textbooks: Zinn People’s History; Labour: ...
18
votes
5answers
5k views

Why did the Turks adopt the Latin alphabet after WWI?

The Turks used to write their language using the Arabic alphabet. After WWI, when Mustafa Kemal revolutionized the country, he imposed the usage of Latin alphabet. Also the new writing system seems to ...
5
votes
4answers
483 views

What adaptations allowed left-handers to write left-to-right with dip pens?

Most people touch the side of their hand to the page as they write with a pen or pencil. Latin is written from left to right, and culturally its heritage somewhat demonizes left-handers ("sinister"). ...
3
votes
2answers
223 views

What did Ostian script look like?

What did Ostian script look like? I've seen some drawings in Origin of the Serif and I'd like to learn more. But when I tried googling I wasn't able to find anything: all I got were false positives. ...
14
votes
2answers
4k views

What numerals did the people of Ireland use before Roman Numerals? (aka, did Ogham include numbers?)

I would like to know if any writing system of Ireland had a system of writing numerals prior to the Romans introducing Roman numerals. There are lots of sites online that show the Ogham writing system ...
4
votes
2answers
309 views

Where can I find an explanation of the variations in style of Egyptian hieroglyphs?

I've seen that Egyptian hieroglyphs are not always written or drawn identically. Long time ago I made a trip in Egypt and saw, in the Valley of the Kings, a tomb with hieroglyphs on the walls that ...
0
votes
1answer
91 views

The origin of symbols used for transferring information over large distances [closed]

The information about the origin of writing systems is a bit difficult to piece together, to find when the first accounts of "writing used to transfer information over large distances". For example, ...
11
votes
1answer
2k views

Were the earliest Egyptian hieroglyphs ever discovered really found in Qustul in Ancient Nubia?

In a comment posted on an answer to the question, 'Does modern scholarship accept an Ethiopian origin for Egyptian hieroglyphs?', the user that posted the question wrote: "The oldest kingdom in ...
0
votes
2answers
440 views

Are there no written records of Sanskrit before Rigveda?

Rigveda is considered the oldest written record of Sanskrit. It has Sanskrit in a very developed form. I wonder if there are any records of Sanskrit before Rigveda which show the language being used ...
5
votes
0answers
351 views

French Revolutionary figure who thought apes could oversee black slaves?

I'm operating off of fuzzy memory for this question but I know I have encountered this bizarre (and offensive: fair warning) historical figure who I am inquiring about here before in my previous ...
6
votes
2answers
196 views

What was the medium for Marcus Aurelius's Meditations?

I imagine Romans using papyrus and quills on a still table, allowing time for the ink to dry, which may not be possible in a battlefield. I once saw a documentary which depicts him walking off in ...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

Parchment and papyrus costs in Roman Empire

How much do we know of the costs of parchment and papyrus in Roman Empire? I'm especially interested in their cost ratio. So far I found some accounts for the other ends of the antiquity: in 301 a ...
5
votes
1answer
302 views

What does this Rx glyph mean in what looks like Latin?

What does this glyph (red) mean? Also, what usage was there for it and the other glyph that looks like a colon (blue)?
3
votes
1answer
122 views

Did Herman Melville help write his uncle's book?

Captain John D'Wolf II (1779-1872), member of a prominent slave-trading family of Bristol, Rhode Island, was the uncle of author Herman Melville (1819-1891). D'Wolf informed Melville's view of life at ...
5
votes
1answer
174 views

What was the first scientific article to give a recognisably “modern” citation to another article?

It's easy to find online citation indices; however they typically only cover recent articles, e.g. Scopus has coverage since 2004. Indeed citation indices in paper form seem to have been introduced in ...
8
votes
1answer
2k views

How does a runic alphabet work?

For instance, let's take the Younger Futhark alphabet. How do you build a word? By just getting the first letter or phoneme of the name of each rune? Or do they have a contextual meaning?
9
votes
4answers
927 views

What was different about the “right” (recto) side of papyrus sheets compared to the other side?

Usually only one side of papyrus sheets was used to write on in classic antiquity. What is the difference between the two sides of a sheet, and why would you write on "recto" only?
1
vote
2answers
302 views

How were foreign names written in runes?

Are there any example of runic writing of a foreign name? Maybe journals or histories from famous warriors, travelers or foes? If so, how they do it with the runes? Basically I'm trying to find ...
1
vote
1answer
71 views

Why did Thomas Larkin write his biographical sketches?

Thomas Larkin, wealthy merchant of Monterey, California in the 1840s, was the consul of the United States. He was also a secret agent for President Buchanan who sent to Washington 78 microbiographies ...
19
votes
1answer
4k views

What is the silver object on the desk and what is 'Elizabeth I' doing with it?

Hollywood movies have never been known for their historical accuracy, which is often sacrificed in the pursuit of entertainment, and the plot & script of the 1939 film 'The Private Lives of ...
2
votes
1answer
114 views

Does Historiography have a usual technical term for historical writing which makes factual claims without giving references for them?

Question. Does Historiography use a standard technical term for the following (commonly encountered) 'mode' of historical writing? The author, towards the beginning of the work, tells the reader a ...
4
votes
0answers
119 views

Textual organization

I was interested to see just now that the Dead Sea Scroll fragments (e.g. this one) have clear spaces delineating the words. Whereas we have, with the Hebrew Bible at least, an idea of where the line ...
11
votes
1answer
394 views

What is the origin of currency signs being placed before the numerical value?

For most units, they symbol/abbreviation is placed after the number: 200 m, 75° F, 60 mph, 100 watts, etc. When stating values of money, such as $500, the dollar sign is placed before the number. ...
1
vote
1answer
153 views

How were the prophecies of Biblical prophets such as Isaiah first published or disseminated?

I read the Old Testament but I don't understand how a prophet such as Isaiah would have first put forth his prophesies. Did he speak to a crowd, and someone took down his words? Or did he write little ...
5
votes
2answers
402 views

Did 20% of the Soviet Population use a Latin script in 1935?

Did 20% of the Soviet Population use a Latin script in 1935? The literacy campaigns in the Soviet Union between 1917 and 1940 taught many people to read. Many people who did not speak Russian had no ...
7
votes
3answers
721 views

Did medieval Icelanders write with runes?

The land-taking of Iceland took place while Norse culture wrote short texts such as inscriptions using runes (during the transition from the Elder to the Younger Futhark). Runes are closely identified ...