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Thread: What's the earliest known forms of written history?

  1. #1
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    What's the earliest known forms of written history?

    The thread topic says it all pretty much. I was just bored and wondering if anyone knew what are the earliest documents we posses of mankind. Thanks ahead of time.

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    Try google and report back what you find. There's a cure for your boredom. Fascinating that one can be both bored and lazy simultaneously, isn't it?
    "They asked if I had found Jesus and I didn't even know He was missing."

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    Thanks for the idea, I was bored and I am a scatter brain and it just jumped to that topic randomly.

    Anyways here's a site for anyone interested:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/334517.stm

    It just sums up the fact they unearthed some old relics that could date back up to 5,500 years ago. Pretty interesting. It was found in Pakistan. Anyways I guess that sums up this thread.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bud Light Man View Post
    Thanks for the idea, I was bored and I am a scatter brain and it just jumped to that topic randomly.

    Anyways here's a site for anyone interested:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/334517.stm

    It just sums up the fact they unearthed some old relics that could date back up to 5,500 years ago. Pretty interesting. It was found in Pakistan. Anyways I guess that sums up this thread.
    How about 32000 years ago?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cave_paintings#Age


    Do I win a prize?

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    Close, but no cigar. Art is not writing.
    " ... It's not as though he proved anything, he only refuted my evidence. ..." Archangel 04.01.09

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  6. #6
    Archangel Guest
    I believe it was Hebrew, and here's an opinion which explains why that belief is rational and most probable.

    The Oldest Language? (A Biblical Perspective)

    (greeklatinaudio.com Austin TX March 2003)

    As a casual perusal of multiple reference works on this subject will reveal, the question, "Which is the oldest language?" quite easily generates several suggestions which almost always include one or more of the following venerable candidates: (in no particular order) SUMERIAN, AKKADIAN, CHINESE, EGYPTIAN, PHRYGIAN, SANSKRIT, PHOENICIAN, etc., etc. And, such a list, of course, obliges the quester to make his own limited choice...

    THUS, a clear-cut answer to the question is not forthcoming, the experts aren't committing, and the end result (if the quester does indeed MAKE a choice) is arrived at kind of like pinning the tail on the donkey.

    A fundamental factor which lends to the above-cited indecisiveness in this field of study is the universally held notion (seemingly unassailable) that, historically, language should somehow show a developmental progression ranging from primitive rudiment to modern refinement. However, as the above list indicates, such is not the case! On the contrary, ancient languages are every bit as linguistically refined as the most trafficked languages of today! Furthermore, there is no historical evidence of earlier more rudimentary intermediate languages which provide a bridge between our supposed first grunts and snorts, and the sophisticated cadence of languages such as the above. So until such evidence is definitively in place, the experts remain in a holding pattern and continue to shove palliative lists at us from which we may make our personal choices.

    Thus, in dealing with the question, "Which is the oldest language?," we continue to work with a theoretical linguistic model which suggests a developmental pattern which is not consequent with reality. (Kind of like using a roadmap of Ankara to find our way around in Boston. (Kind of like pinning the tail on the donkey...) )

    SO...
    To bypass this unpleasant and unproductive circumstance, may we temporarily chuck the currently preferred model and revisit the most revered and credible historical document in our possession, the Bible, to consider the question at hand ...

    [Note that it is not within the scope of this narrative to confirm (or reconfirm) the astounding credibility of the Bible as an unparalleled historical reference document. This is a task for the reader to undertake for himself. The Bible, however, will be used here as the historical reference-of-choice for establishing the conclusions arrived at.]


    PROCEEDING...
    Using the Bible as our historical reference-of-choice will require ONE necessary, yet reasonable, adjustment in logic. (Have no fear! This logical adjustment is only temporary, for the sake of this discussion. It may freely be abandoned when we're done - or, you may "disconnect" whenever you wish!)

    This adjustment in logic follows:
    The Bible claims to be a divinely inspired account of creation, and the relevant history of mankind's dealings with God. (2nd Timothy 3:16, Romans 15:4) RULE: Let's magnanimously assume, within the context of this discussion, that this might be true.


    With the above rule in place, then the following would also apply: Historically, God was there. He saw it all. He did it all. Therefore, what his professed record says is reasonably worthy of (at the very least!) polite analysis. Interestingly, following through in this tolerant(!) frame of mind brings us to some very intriguing conclusions which apply directly to our "oldest language" question, AND which fit far more harmoniously with what reality suggests...

    FOR EXAMPLE...
    - If God, the creator of the universe (a universe whose size, balanced complexity and beauty eloquently attest to its creator's consummate power and artistry) made Adam from the dust of the ground, and in his image and likeness (which obviously isn't shabby!) then this guy (Adam) was quite likely NOT some knuckle-dragging, low-brow, worm-grubbing, prognathic klutz who could only grunt in monosyllables, and poke crude marks in the sand with his gnarled and filthy opposable thumb.

    - In fact, the Genesis account confirms that an infinitely more refined Adam started out speaking a real language, in a very dignified context, even conversing with God and composing poetry on-the-fly! (Genesis 2:16 ,17, 23; 3:10-context)

    - Furthermore, this refined creature had so robust a physiology that he could live for nearly a thousand years(!) (Genesis 5:5) This being the case, then his accompanying neurology must have been phenomenal as well! For this reason alone, we might be justified in ascribing a level of genius to him and his contemporaries that would topple our meager conceptual notions of what genius is...

    - It easily follows then that Adam could certainly read and write [a] language. After all, if God created him with all of this implied refinement (including speech - from the git-go!) it takes only a small leap of logic to imagine that he also gifted Adam with normally accompanying language capabilities.

    - And, given mankind's unquestioned propensity for keeping written records, we might even conclude that Adam and his refined contemporaries did just that! Like we do today! Amazingly enough, the Bible suggests that this might even be the case!



    The Documentary Nature of the Genesis Account
    Moses is regarded, without any serious argument to the contrary, as the writer and compiler of the earliest portions of the Bible. However, Moses does not appear on the Biblical scene until the Exodus account. Obviously then, all of the material comprising the earlier Biblical record (i.e., Genesis) had to be provided for Moses through some exterior means. (e.g., oral tradition, divine revelation, prior written records, all of the above, other(?)...)

    If, from this short list of source possibilities, we concentrate only on the avenue of prior written records which Moses likely had in his possession, then the documentary nature of the Genesis account takes on substantial significance as it relates to our question: "Which is the oldest language?".

    For example, many Biblical scholars are of the opinion that the occasional colophons found in the Genesis account are indications of narrative references or inclusions from prior records or documents. The precise nature of colophonic protocol, as it was understood and used by ancient chroniclers, is not clearly understood today, however, the presence of these colophons in the Genesis account strongly supports the theory that Moses did indeed have access to documents harking from the most ancient periods of mankind's Biblical history. In any case, can one imagine a credible historian NOT having access to such sources, or using them!

    [The reader may pursue a study of documentary "colophons" and their historic usage on his own. (see also, Hebrew: תולדות "Toledoth")]

    Assuming then, that Moses had access to such documents and included them (or referred to them) in his Genesis account, we may build upon some of their historical (and implied eye-witness) commentary as it pertains to early language:


    Tower of Babel: A Critical Focal Point in the [Biblical] History of Language...
    Regarding events at Babel, (Genesis chapter 11) we are told that, just prior to the time of the attempted construction of the tower, (c. 2300 B.C.E. (c. 100 years after the Deluge) ) all the earth was still speaking one language. (Genesis 11:1) This is, obviously, a very important and helpful statement because it allows us to make some founding assumptions: (Please excuse the obviousness of these assumptions, but listing them here helps congeal their significance in the mind of the reader.)

    1.) Up until the incident at Babel, mankind spoke a single language. (i.e., the language in question.)

    2.) This means that any supposed historical documents which originated from the time prior to Babel were recorded in the language in question.

    3.) Thus, the possible historical chroniclers who could have written such documents, e.g., Adam,(?) Methuselah,(?) Enoch,(?) Noah,(?) Noah's sons,(?) etc., all spoke the language in question.

    4.) Furthermore, it is reasonable to conclude that, because the action of God to multiply the language of mankind at Babel was a PUNITIVE action, those of mankind who were still regarded with favor by God, (and who were, therefore, NOT the object of this punitive action) would have continued to speak the language in question AFTER the incident at Babel.

    (Bear in mind here that Methuselah lived right up to the time of the Deluge and was, therefore, a contemporary of Noah and his sons, who survived the Deluge and were around during the time of the incident at Babel. (We may blithely assume that Noah and his sons were regarded with favor by God(!) and, therefore, did NOT have their language affected.) )

    5.) Notably, at this approximate critical juncture in history, (c. 300 years after the incident at Babel) we find Abram, (Abraham) a contemporary of Noah's son Shem, appearing on Biblical radar. The Bible calls him "a Hebrew," and "God's friend." (Genesis 14:13, James 2:23) It is therefore reasonable to conclude that Abraham spoke the language in question.

    6.) The language in question was Hebrew.

    AGAIN: The substantive CONNECTING assumption here, which ties the language of Abraham to the "one language" spoken by mankind prior to the incident at Babel is, that the action of God to multiply mankind's language was PUNITIVE. Therefore, the few of mankind who were still in God's favor at that time, would NOT likely have been affected.


    Cave Canem...
    It would be good to remind the reader that the conclusion arrived at here (i.e., that Hebrew is the oldest language) is based upon perfectly reasonable assumptions - which in turn, are based upon the RULE stated above and reiterated here: "Let's magnanimously assume, within the context of this discussion, that [the Bible record] might be true."

    For those readers with a bent for historical linguistics, who may at this point be in the painful throes of conflicting theoretical apoplexy, please be reminded: The logical adjustment underlying the rule (and allowing for the stated assumptions) is only temporary, for the sake of this discussion. It may freely be abandoned when we're done - or, you may "disconnect" whenever you wish!

    However, as in any objective attempt at inquery into controversy, it is always worth considering (very carefully) the invasive impact that ones bias has on the process - particularly as it applies to this subject. Admittedly, the roads of bias can go off in countless directions, but the bias being challenged here is the big one, mentioned at the outset of this discussion, i.e., that it is almost universally and unassailably presumed that mankind (cf, 'new man' and neander (as in Neanderthal, fr. Greek: neoV anhr "New Man" and German: Thal "Valley") ) started out as some "knuckle-dragging, low-brow, worm-grubbing, prognathic ["valley-boy"] klutz who could only grunt in monosyllables and poke crude marks in the sand with his gnarled and filthy opposable thumb," etc.

    If the quester is convinced that this is the case, then of course, his investigative modality will likely comply with the underlying notion. AND because this "Neanderthal notion" is almost universally assumed to BE the case, it appears that the bias in question applies. It is, therefore, not surprising that NEARLY ALL explanations of language origin paint this unholy picture of a bunch of bungling uncomposed simians grubbing for worms and stumbling upon linguistic cognizance - by pure accident! AND that, therefore, historical language development should present itself as proceeding from crude rudiment to modern refinement.

    It is merely being suggested here, that this prosaic, over-used and bias-induced model MAY NOT apply at all! AND, as has been demonstrated here, our historical reference-of-choice (the Bible) presents a diametrically opposed and far more dignified picture.


    A Related and Interesting Speculative Exercise:
    Proceeding on the basis of the foregoing assumptions, (i.e., that Hebrew is the oldest language, and that Moses had access to extremely ancient source documents in Hebrew when compiling and writing Genesis) we might give our attention to an intriguing segment of the Genesis account which has been cited by Biblical scholars as possibly representing one such document. It is comprised of the text of Genesis 1:1 through Genesis 2:4.

    If this segment of text does indeed represent the content of a single ancient source document which Moses had in his possession, it would be interesting to speculate a bit on its nature...

    To this end...
    We know with reasonable certainty, based upon paleographical evidence, that Hebrew script style has presented itself over historical millenia in two broad alphabetic formats. Each format, of course, has its own set of innumerable possibilities for stylistic and [writer-]idiosyncratic variation, but in general, these script styles are:

    1. Modern. (variously called "square," "Aramaic," "Babylonian," "Assyrian," inter alia(!?) ) Traditionally, and in the opinion of most gurus, this style hails from around the time of the Jewish exile in Babylon, c. 600 B.C.E. Remarkably, it is therefore, about 2600 years old!

    2. Ancient. (variously called "Phoenician," "Canaanite," "paleo-Hebrew," "pre-exilic Hebrew," "old Hebrew," inter alia(!?) ) This script style antedates the former, and is, therefore, (and remarkably!) FAR OLDER than 2600 years!


    Regarding these two script styles, the following chart is presented which equates them letter-for-letter alphabetically. At the top is a common variation of the modern Hebrew script style. Below it, is an acceptable variation of the ancient Hebrew script style.

    http://www.greeklatinaudio.com/images/hebchars.jpg

    Using the ancient script style presented in this chart, the document in question, comprised of the text of Genesis 1:1 through Genesis 2:4, (as represented in the Masoretic text) is speculatively reviewed in the following links: The first link displays the text in question as it may well have appeared while in Moses' possession c. 3500 years ago. The second link displays exactly the same text, line-for-line, as it appears in modern Hebrew. The third link displays the same text in line-for-line English translation, and the fourth link provides access to a downloadable MP3 audio reading of the text in Hebrew.
    http://www.greeklatinaudio.com/oldlang.htm

  7. #7
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    Errrrrrrrrrr........ No. Next?
    " ... It's not as though he proved anything, he only refuted my evidence. ..." Archangel 04.01.09

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    "They asked if I had found Jesus and I didn't even know He was missing."

  9. #9
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    Your links are very interesting. Let's look at them side by side.

    http://www.greeklatinaudio.com/images/tu1.ancheb.jpg

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/olmedia/330000...7_write300.jpg

    http://www.informbank.com/allgallery/w-0-a-0-i-9.jpeg

    Notice the similarities in the characters. Especially between the known ancient Hebrew and your first example. But even the second example seems similar in its geometric construction.

    And just out of curiosity, if homo sapien sapiens date back more than 100,000 years as hunter gatherers with socialized communities, why don't we have any written languages going back further back than 5,000 years or so? Or at least further back than evidence suggests that man had a written language?

    http://www.msu.edu/~robin400/sapiensmodern.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by Archangel View Post
    And just out of curiosity, if homo sapien sapiens date back more than 100,000 years as hunter gatherers with socialized communities, why don't we have any written languages going back further back than 5,000 years or so? Or at least further back than evidence suggests that man had a written language?
    Because once again you're wrong. H. Sapiens dates back roughly 100K years. "Socialized communities" date back about 5K years or so. Question answered.
    "Creationists make it sound as though a 'theory' is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night."
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    "Truth, in matters of religion, is simply the opinion that has survived"
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by T.Q View Post
    Because once again you're wrong. H. Sapiens dates back roughly 100K years. "Socialized communities" date back about 5K years or so. Question answered.
    Interesting, so you're saying that prior to 5,000 years ago human beings were solitary creatures rather than socialized? I have never heard that before. And evidently neither have any of the sources on-line. Like this one.

    Hunter-gatherers
    Noble or savage?
    Dec 19th 2007
    From The Economist print edition

    The era of the hunter-gatherer was not the social and environmental Eden that some suggest

    HUMAN beings have spent most of their time on the planet as hunter-gatherers. From at least 85,000 years ago to the birth of agriculture around 73,000 years later, they combined hunted meat with gathered veg. Some people, such as those on North Sentinel Island in the Andaman Sea, still do. The Sentinelese are the only hunter-gatherers who still resist contact with the outside world. Fine-looking specimens—strong, slim, fit, black and stark naked except for a small plant-fibre belt round the waist—they are the very model of the noble savage. Genetics suggests that indigenous Andaman islanders have been isolated since the very first expansion out of Africa more than 60,000 years ago.

    About 12,000 years ago people embarked on an experiment called agriculture and some say that they, and their planet, have never recovered. Farming brought a population explosion, protein and vitamin deficiency, new diseases and deforestation. Human height actually shrank by nearly six inches after the first adoption of crops in the Near East. So was agriculture “the worst mistake in the history of the human race”, as Jared Diamond, evolutionary biologist and professor of geography at the University of California, Los Angeles, once called it?


    Take a snapshot of the old world 15,000 years ago. Except for bits of Siberia, it was full of a new and clever kind of people who had originated in Africa and had colonised first their own continent, then Asia, Australia and Europe, and were on the brink of populating the Americas. They had spear throwers, boats, needles, adzes, nets. They painted pictures, decorated their bodies and believed in spirits. They traded foods, shells, raw materials and ideas. They sang songs, told stories and prepared herbal medicines.

    According to the bolded above, you are way off in your understanding of the perceived history. So I repeat my question; since humans have lived in shared communal societies for at least 75,000 years, and were advanced enough to cave paint which was one form of communicating events such as hunts, why is it that no known written languages appeared until such time which correlates with the biblical account of Mans creation? Could it be even remotely possible that secular science has misinterpreted the so called evidence which they base so many assumptions upon?
    Last edited by Archangel; 10-04-2008 at 12:03 PM.

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    The simpler answer is that written records are not a necessary pre-requisite for a society. Many native american cultures had no written records, but did have a rich and complex oral tradition, for example. Prior to the development of writing, it's likely that most, if not all, cultures relied on the oral tradition. There is certainly evidence that Jewish culture featured both an oral and a written Torah.
    “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist” - Helder Camara
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  13. #13
    Archangel Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Jo Bennett View Post
    The simpler answer is that written records are not a necessary pre-requisite for a society. Many native american cultures had no written records, but did have a rich and complex oral tradition, for example. Prior to the development of writing, it's likely that most, if not all, cultures relied on the oral tradition. There is certainly evidence that Jewish culture featured both an oral and a written Torah.
    That's all well and good Jo, for another debate that is. Because this debate is titled "What's the earliest known forms of written history?" And that question naturally begs the other question regarding the inconsistency of evolutionists claims of homo sapien having been around for so long, yet never learning to create a written language, when according to Creationism, we had a written language almost since the moment of creation.

    My link explains in practical terms a rational and reasonable history of written language, yet it is dismissed out of hand. HERE it is again for consideration.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Archangel View Post
    Interesting, so you're saying that prior to 5,000 years ago human beings were solitary creatures rather than socialized?
    Sorry, I thought you might actually have a clue there for a second. No, what I'm saying is prior to 5K years ago, "civilization" as we understand it-stable communities with division of labour-didn't exist.

    According to the bolded above, you are way off in your understanding of the perceived history.
    Actually, that would be you.

    So I repeat my question; since humans have lived in shared communal societies for at least 75,000 years, and were advanced enough to cave paint which was one form of communicating events such as hunts, why is it that no known written languages appeared until such time which correlates with the biblical account of Mans creation? Could it be even remotely possible that secular science has misinterpreted the so called evidence which they base so many assumptions upon?
    Already answered. And when will you actually list some of these "assumptions", since there are so many of them?
    "Creationists make it sound as though a 'theory' is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Archangel View Post
    That's all well and good Jo, for another debate that is. Because this debate is titled "What's the earliest known forms of written history?" And that question naturally begs the other question regarding the inconsistency of evolutionists claims of homo sapien having been around for so long, yet never learning to create a written language, when according to Creationism, we had a written language almost since the moment of creation.
    As Jo already explained, writing is not a prerequisite for civilization, as is demonstrated by the Native Americans.

    My link explains in practical terms a rational and reasonable history of written language, yet it is dismissed out of hand. HERE it is again for consideration.
    If all else fails, repeat ad nauseam...
    "Creationists make it sound as though a 'theory' is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night."
    Isaac Asimov

    "Truth, in matters of religion, is simply the opinion that has survived"
    Oscar Wilde

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