Needless to say, what a great significance in the history of mankind was the invention of writing. You can not even imagine what could go by the development of civilization, if at a certain stage of its development, people have not learned to fix with the help of certain symbols the information they need and thus transmit and preserve it. It is obvious that human society in the form in which it exists today, would simply not have been possible.
The first form of writing in the form of a specially inscribed signs appeared about 4 thousand years BC But long before this, there were various methods of communication and storage of information: using a certain way of folded branches, arrows, smoke of fires and similar signals. From these primitive warning systems later appeared more sophisticated ways to record information. For example, the ancient Inca invented an original system of "record" with the knots. For this purpose different color fur laces. They tied a variety of knots and fastened on a stick in such a "letter" was sent to the addressee.
It is believed that the Incas with the help of such "nodular letter" fixed its laws, and chronicles recorded poems. "Knot letter" mentioned in other nations - it was used in ancient China and Mongolia.
However, writing in the proper sense of the word appeared only after the people to capture and transmit information invented special graphic symbols. The most ancient kind of pictographic writing is considered. Icon is a schematic drawing that shows a direct things, events and phenomena in question.
It is assumed that pictography was widespread among various peoples in the last stage of the Stone Age. This letter is very clear, and therefore it is not necessary to specifically study. It is quite suitable for the transmission of small messages and to write simple stories. But when there was a need to convey some complex abstract idea or concept immediately felt limited options icon, which completely adapted to the recording that can not be patterned image (for example, concepts such as courage, bravery, vigilance, good sleep, heavenly blue, etc.). Therefore, at an early stage of writing the history of the special contingent icons are included in the number of icons indicating the specific concepts (for example, the sign of the crossed hands symbolized exchange) These icons are called ideograms.
Ideographic writing arose from pictographic, and you can very clearly imagine how it happened: every figurative mark icon became increasingly stand apart from others and communicate with a specific word or concept, designating it. Gradually, this process is so developed that the primitive pictographs lost its previous clarity, but have gained clarity and certainty. This process took a long time, perhaps several thousand years. The highest form of ideograms was hieroglyphic writing. It first appeared in ancient Egypt. Later hieroglyphic writing is widespread in the Far East - China, Japan and Korea. With the help of ideograms could repel any, even the most complex and abstract thought. However, for the uninitiated in the mystery of the meaning of written characters I was completely incomprehensible. Anyone who would like to learn to write, had to memorize several thousand icons. In reality, it took several years of constant exercise. Therefore, reading and writing in ancient times knew how few.
However, it should be noted immediately that ideography never existed in a pure form. For example, in ancient Egypt, along with icons designating the whole concepts and words, there were other signs designating syllables and even individual sounds. The need for such signs of obvious, since not everything can be expressed in the form of images (above all it concerns the personal names).
In these cases, the Egyptians turned the words into letters-characters-characters, from which make up the word to be transmitted in writing in accordance with their sound. For example the character "xm" - the image of the house - has become a two-letter character for the sound [xm], the character "plural" - the image of the chessboard - became a character for two sounds [plural], etc. At first, the importance of phonetic characters were secondary, but over time their role is all the more increased, and in the last centuries of Egyptian writing the value of the phonetic hieroglyphs became dominant. But purely phonographic writing (ie such where each character represents a single sound or letter) the Egyptians had not moved. This is an important improvement was made in a letter to other people.
People not immediately learned to divide my speech into simple elements - sounds (phonemes). Much easier it is divided into separate syllables. Therefore, in the 2nd millennium BC It has developed several types of letters in which every sign indicates a single syllable (this letter is called syllabic, classic examples of it - Cretan (Minoan) letter and the letter of the Maya). Only at the end of the 2nd millennium BC ancient Phoenicians invented the alphabet letter-sound, which served as a model for the alphabets of many other nations. Phoenician alphabet consisted of 22 consonants, each of which indicates a single sound. The invention of the alphabet was to mankind a great step forward. With the new letter was easy to graphically convey any word, without recourse to ideograms. Trained him was very simple. The art of writing is no longer a privilege of the enlightened. It became the property of the entire society, or at least most of it. This was one of the reasons for the rapid spread of the Phoenician alphabet around the world. How to find four-fifths of all the currently known alphabet originated from the Phoenician. Because of the variety of the Phoenician letters (Punic) developed Libyan. Directly from the Phoenician was the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek letters. In turn, based on the Aramaic script developed Arabic, Nabataean, Syriac, Persian and other writing. The Greeks made in the Phoenician alphabet the last important improvement - they have letters denote not only the consonants, but vowels. The Greek alphabet was the basis for most European alphabets: Latin (. From which, in turn, took the French, German, English, Italian, Spanish and other alphabets), Coptic, Armenian, Georgian and Slav (Serbian, Russian, Bulgarian, etc.).