Humans have invented writing not once, not twice, but three times. Ancient Sumeria, China, and Mesoamerica all invented the written word independent of each other. In the case of Mesoamerican writing, there’s some ambiguity about when and who made it. Most experts agree that by around 500 BCE Zapotec peoples had created a writing system, but there’s some debate about whether or not the Olmec, an even older civilization, were the first in Mesoamerica to invent writing. One artifact, the 3,000 year old Cascajal Block, suggests that the Olmecs did, in fact, have a writing system. The Block is strewn with glyphs in a language that nobody speaks or understands, and is, potentially, the oldest piece of writing in the Western Hemisphere.
For more on misconceptions about Olmecs, check out Episode Three of this show, Incorrect Ideas About Olmecs.
More about the Runamo Inscription, the supposed ancient Viking runes that turned out to just be cracks in rock.
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