One of the qualities of human intellect is to pass on knowledge and knowledge through writing. The origin of this communication tool is still uncertain, but new discoveries bring to light evidence of human ingenuity. In this regard, African manuscripts containing new evidence on the evolution of writing have been analyzed.
The writings originate from Liberia and are a set of symbols related to a rare form of proto language, conceived in 1834 by illiterate individuals of the Vai people. The study of the artifact, comparing early versions of the writings to modern ones, allowed researchers at the Max Planck Institute to identify new evidence on the evolution of written languages. Another expressive form with a mysterious and fascinating aspect is certainly the oldest rock painting of 45,000 years ago.
Piers Kelly, anthropologist at the University of New England, Australia, said “Because of the isolation of the communicative system and the way it continued to develop to our day, we thought it might tell us something important about how writing evolves.
In modern society, writing is an indispensable necessity in communication, so much so that it is often taken for granted. The first evidence of the advent of writing can be traced back to about 5,000 years ago in the Middle East, but it is not an obsolete system at all, rather it is constantly renewed. This still allows the continuous genesis of new writing systems, especially in the African continent.
According to anthropologists, such writing patterns found fertile ground in small ethnic basins, in the space of just one generation, and, over time, their characteristic patterns of expression have been simplified. Moreover, according to Kelly, there is a hypothesis that “letters evolve from images to abstract signs” and continuing “But there are also many forms of abstract letters in the initial writing. We have seen that the signs begin as relatively complex and then become simpler through the new generations of writers and readers.”
The creators of writing Go seem to have been inspired by existing forms to design the structure of symbols and syllables of the language, drawing from pregnant women, water and bullets, as well as emblems and abstract forms.
The written language has come to this day, in a simplified form compared to the complexity of the nineteenth century prototype, and is used in daily communication. Below you can admire some of the symbols of the writing system Go:
The most fascinating aspect of language is related to its sudden evolution. In 171 years since its origin, it has undergone a process of simplification and ‘compression’, due to the memory and learning of generations of writers and readers who have followed.
Regarding the process, Kelly suggests “Visual complexity is useful if you are creating a new writing system. Create more clues and greater contrasts between signs, which helps illiterate students. This complexity later hinders efficient reading and reproduction, and therefore disappears.
The incredible speed with which this language evolved, according to researchers, could also be attributed to the already acclaimed awareness of inventors about the potential of writing, through the use in other cultures, encouraging the people to optimize it quickly.
And if you’re some pot Indiana Jones, you can’t let the mystery of dead sea manuscripts escape.
Below you can see an image, belonging to Kelly and the research team, which compares the first forms of writing Go to the left to its modern version (right).