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Bronze head, Sanxingdui Ruins, Sichuan (4800 years ago) Photo by Jiang Cong

Bronze head, Sanxingdui Ruins, Sichuan (4800 years ago) Photo by Jiang Cong

Shang oracle bone: During the Shang Dynasty, writing is used to count the record the wealth and the oracles like on this bone. The oracles are the interpretation of the cracks on the bones after burning them during rituals.

Shang oracle bone: During the Shang Dynasty, writing is used to count the record the wealth and the oracles like on this bone. The oracles are the interpretation of the cracks on the bones after burning them during rituals.

The earliest Aramaic alphabet was based on the Phoenician alphabet. In time, Aramaic developed its distinctive "square" style. The ancient Israelites and other peoples of Canaan adopted this alphabet for writing their own languages. Thus, it is better known as the Hebrew alphabet today. This is the writing system used in Biblical Aramaic and other Jewish writing in Aramaic. The other main writing system used for Aramaic was developed by Christian communities: a cursive form known as the…

The earliest Aramaic alphabet was based on the Phoenician alphabet. In time, Aramaic developed its distinctive "square" style. The ancient Israelites and other peoples of Canaan adopted this alphabet for writing their own languages. Thus, it is better known as the Hebrew alphabet today. This is the writing system used in Biblical Aramaic and other Jewish writing in Aramaic. The other main writing system used for Aramaic was developed by Christian communities: a cursive form known as the…

Naxi (a.k.a. Nakhi, Naqxi, Nasi) belongs to the Yi branch of the Tibeto-Burman language family. About 300,000 people speak Naxi in China.  The Naxi Dongba script was invented in the 13th century and used exclusively by the Dongba (shamans/priests) as an aid to the recitation of ritual texts during religious ceremonies and shamanistic rituals. There's efforts to revive the writing system in regional schools.

Naxi (a.k.a. Nakhi, Naqxi, Nasi) belongs to the Yi branch of the Tibeto-Burman language family. About 300,000 people speak Naxi in China. The Naxi Dongba script was invented in the 13th century and used exclusively by the Dongba (shamans/priests) as an aid to the recitation of ritual texts during religious ceremonies and shamanistic rituals. There's efforts to revive the writing system in regional schools.

Zoroastrian prayer, the Ashem Vohu. Written in  Avestan alphabet which was created in the 3rd and 4th centuries AD for writing the hymns of Zarathustra (a.k.a Zoroaster), the Avesta. Many of the letters are derived from the old Pahlavi alphabet of Persia, which itself was derived from the Aramaic alphabet. The Avestan alphabet was replaced by the Arabic alphabet after Persia converted to Islam during the 7th century AD.

Zoroastrian prayer, the Ashem Vohu. Written in Avestan alphabet which was created in the 3rd and 4th centuries AD for writing the hymns of Zarathustra (a.k.a Zoroaster), the Avesta. Many of the letters are derived from the old Pahlavi alphabet of Persia, which itself was derived from the Aramaic alphabet. The Avestan alphabet was replaced by the Arabic alphabet after Persia converted to Islam during the 7th century AD.

Egypt: the Nile delta and the history of the Pharaohs, from the notes of Sir Walter Raleigh, made during his imprisonment in the Tower of London, ca. 1603 - 1616

Egypt: the Nile delta and the history of the Pharaohs, from the notes of Sir Walter Raleigh, made during his imprisonment in the Tower of London, ca. 1603 - 1616

1032. Tangut Buddhist scrolls. The religion of the Tangut state was Buddhism. The entire Chinese Buddhist canon was translated into Tangut language over a span of 50 years and published, a remarkable feat. The Buddhism in Xixia is generally believed to be an amalgamation of Tibetan and Chinese traditions. Tangut Buddhism was similar to Buddhist beliefs in the Khitan kingdom of Liao: texts previously believed to be of native Tangut origin, turned out to be translations of Khitan source texts.

1032. Tangut Buddhist scrolls. The religion of the Tangut state was Buddhism. The entire Chinese Buddhist canon was translated into Tangut language over a span of 50 years and published, a remarkable feat. The Buddhism in Xixia is generally believed to be an amalgamation of Tibetan and Chinese traditions. Tangut Buddhism was similar to Buddhist beliefs in the Khitan kingdom of Liao: texts previously believed to be of native Tangut origin, turned out to be translations of Khitan source texts.

Amulet, 11th century; Fatimid, Egypt.  Gift of Nelly, Violet, and Elie Abemayor, in memory of Michel Abemayor, 1978 (1978.546.32)  Centuries before block printing was introduced in Europe, the technique was used in the Islamic world to produce miniature texts consisting of prayers, incantations, and Qur’anic verses that were kept in amulet boxes. The text on this amulet is in the angular kufic script. The six-pointed star, a familiar symbol in Islamic art, is usually called "Solomon's seal."

Amulet, 11th century; Fatimid, Egypt. Gift of Nelly, Violet, and Elie Abemayor, in memory of Michel Abemayor, 1978 (1978.546.32) Centuries before block printing was introduced in Europe, the technique was used in the Islamic world to produce miniature texts consisting of prayers, incantations, and Qur’anic verses that were kept in amulet boxes. The text on this amulet is in the angular kufic script. The six-pointed star, a familiar symbol in Islamic art, is usually called "Solomon's seal."

The Dresden Codex, an early Mayan codex

The Dresden Codex, an early Mayan codex

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