Start Date
Place
Notes
Source
3650 BCE
Egypt
Hieroglyphic writing system created by the
Egyptians.
http://scratchpad.wikia.com/wiki/History_of_
Archives,_Recordkeeping,_and_Records
February 2011
3500 BCE
Sumer
In Sumer and Elam, the start of pictographic
writing.
http://timelines.ws February 2007
3315 BCE
Egypt
Writing gradually developed towards phoneticism
and by the time of Menes (about 3315 BC) many
picture signs had a purely phonetic value and
words were regularly spelled out.
Innis, Empire, P. 34
3000 BCE
Egypt
Egypt develops hieroglyphic writing.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu January
2007
3000 BCE
Egypt
The Egyptians used reed brushes on papyrus to
write hieroglyphics.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu January
2007
3000 BCE
Near East
In Near East, writing direction on clay changes
from columns to rows.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu January
2007
3000 BCE
Sumer
Sumerians write wedge-shaped cuneiform
numerals and ideographic symbols.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu July 2007
2600 BCE
Egypt
In Egypt, scribes employ hieratic writing, a
condensed, cursive hieroglyphic.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu August
2010
2300 BCE
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamian Semites use cuneiform and base-
10 numbering.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu January
2007
2300 BCE
Pakistan
In the Indus Valley (modern Pakistan), Proto-
Indian writing.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu August
2010
2000 BCE
China
Chinese developed a pictographic-based written
language.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu August
2010
1800 BCE
Crete
Writing in the Minoan civilization of Crete.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu March
2007
1700 BCE
Canaan
First known alphabetic symbols, a few written by
Semites in Canaan.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu January
2007
1500 BCE
Middle East
The earliest surviving texts in Ancient Greek are
of the 15th century BC and are written in a script
known as Linear B … Later documents, including
inscriptions and literary works are written in the
Greek alphabet, which was derived from the
script of the Phoenicians circa 9th century BC.
New Columbia Encyclopedia
1300 BCE
Syria
First entirely alphabetic writing, 30 Ugaritic
cuneiform symbols on tablets.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu August
2006
1259 BCE
Egypt
Egyptians and Hittites sign first written peace
treaty.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu January
2007
1200 BCE
Phoenicia
The Phoenician alphabet, 22 letters, all
consonants.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu August
2006
0900 BCE
Mediterranean
Phonetic alphabet spreads across the
Mediterranean.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu March
2007
0900 BCE
Syria
In central Syria Egyptian influence was more
important and by about 900 BC Hittite script was
not far from the Phoenician in that it was partly in
phonetic form. With the script of the Vannic
people that of the Hittites disappeared in
competition with the Phoenician alphabet. As a
result of the scarcity of suitable clay in northern
regions and the development of a linear script
with curved strokes on papyrus or parchment, an
alphabet of twenty-two linear signs appeared in
north Syria in about the tenth century.
Innis, Empire, P. 58
0750 BCE
Egypt
Egyptian demotic writing, a cursive derived from
hieratic, hieroglyphs.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu
0400 BCE
Central America
In Central America, Zapotec writing.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu
0250 BCE
India
Brahmi, the first strictly Indian writing, in King
Asoka's edicts.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu June 2006
0202 BCE
China
During the Han dynasty (202 BC-AD 220) a
simplified version of Chinese script, "lishu" or
clerical script, becomes used. [T] The writing is
done with brush and ink. Subsequently, lishu
became the basis for modern Chinese.
http://www.ciolek.com/GLOBAL/early.html#1
st century BCE June 2006
0200 BCE
Near East
Monks start to use uncial script based on Greek
alphabet.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu January
2007
0196 BCE
Near East
Cutting of the Rosetta stone in hieroglyphics,
hieratic, and Greek.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu December
2006
0150 BCE
Near East
The Modern Hebrew alphabet, derived from
Aramaic cursive letters.
htttp://www.mediahistory.umn.edu January
2007
0063 BCE
Roman Empire
Marcus Tullius Tiro, ex-slave of Cicero, invents a
shorthand system.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu December
2006
0001
China
Reformed Chinese writing in li-shu style
prefigured modern Chinese.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu July 2008
0100
Roman Empire
Imperial Latin alphabet of 22 characters (A, B, C,
D, E, F, G, H, I, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, V, X)
[it did not distinguish between I and J, or V and U,
and it did not have W] acquires Y and Z to handle
foreign words
http://www.ciolek.com/GLOBAL/early.html#1
st century BCE June 2009
0300
Northern Europe
Goths carved runic alphabet on wood and stone;
will continue for 1,000 years.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu June 2006
0400
Asia
Writing systems, vocabulary spread from India to
Southeast Asia.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu January
2007
0400
England
In England, the Anglo-Saxons brought Futhark
from continental Europe in the 5th century and
modified it into the 33-letter "Futhorc" to
accommodate sound changes that were
occurring in Old English, the language spoken by
the Anglo-Saxons. An early offshoot of Futhark
was employed by Goths, and so it is known as
Gothic Runes. It was used until 500 CE when it
was replaced by the Greek-based Gothic
alphabet.
http://timelines.ws January 2007
0600
Italy
Latin minuscules, which are the basis of modern
'small letters' are introduced, in addition to
majuscules, or 'capitals' in Europe
http://www.ciolek.com/GLOBAL/early.html#1
st century BCE June 2007
0740
Japan
Kibi no Makibi developed katakana, first of two
syllabic Japanese alphabets.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu January
2009
0800
Scandinavia
In Scandinavia, Futhark evolved around the 9th
century. Instead of 24 letters, the Scandinavian
"Younger" Futhark had 16 letters. In England,
Anglo-Saxon Futhorc started to be replaced by
the Latin alphabet by the 9th century, and did not
survive much more past the Norman Conquest.
Futhark continued to be used in Scandinavia for
centuries longer, but by 1600 CE, it had become
nothing more than a curiosity among scholars
and antiquarians.
http://timelines.ws January 2007
0835
Japan
Japanese Buddhist priest, K˛kai, develops
hiragana, a syllabic alphabet.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu December
2006
0850
Russia
The Slavs get a writing system; the Cyrillic
alphabet will soon follow.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu January
2007
0863
Russia
Two brothers, both Macedonian monks, develop
the Cyrillic alphabet.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu March
2007
1765
Mesopotamia
K. Niebuhr, Danish visitor to Mesopotamia,
made copies of cuneiform inscriptions at
Persepolis, which were later used and
deciphered by George Grotefund. He observed
that there was three kinds of writing--those which
we now recognize as Old Persian, Elamite, and
Babylonian.
http://timelines.ws May 2011
Writing Systems Timeline
Created with Timeline Maker Professional. Produced on 25 Feb 2012.