Laura Hawkins of Oxford University will give a lecture on “A Writing Revolution: How and Why Writing Spread in the Ancient Near East,” on Wednesday 10 December at 4:30 p.m. in Northen Auditorium in Leyburn Library.
The lecture is free and open to the public. After the talk, Tim Lubin, W&L Professor of Religion, will discuss “Writing Eastward: from India to Borneo” in a brief afterword.
Hawkins, a doctoral researcher at the University of Oxford in the Faculty of Oriental Studies, will begin with an overview of cuneiform writing, showing how the signs acquired syllabic phonetic values, a characteristic which may have been important in the script’s adoption throughout the ancient Near East for use in a variety of languages. She will offer some conclusions on why cuneiform was such a successful technological innovation in the region.
Lubin will pick up the thread in ancient India, where a new script, probably inspired by the one used for Aramaic, was designed to publish the edicts of the Emperor Asoka in Magadha Prakrit. This script, also a type of syllabary, subsequently spread across South and Southeast Asia, being adapted to write texts in many different languages, for many different purposes.