Writing and Civilization: From Ancient Worlds to Modernity : The Great Courses: Linguistics

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Marc Zender
  • Series: The Great Courses: Linguistics
  • 12 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

At just over 5,000 years old, writing is actually a relatively recent invention. It has become so central to the way we communicate and live, however, that it often seems as if writing has always existed.
But the question remains: Who invented writing, and why?
In these 24 fascinating lectures, you'll trace the remarkable saga of the invention and evolution of "visible speech," from its earliest origins to its future in the digital age. Your guide is an accomplished professor and epigrapher who whisks you around the globe to explore how an array of sophisticated writing systems developed, then were adopted and adapted by surrounding cultures.
Along the way, you'll visit the great early civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, Japan, and the Americas, and you'll see how deciphering ancient scripts is a little like cracking secret codes - only far more difficult.
You'll be spellbound as you hear accounts of the breathtaking moments when the decipherment of ancient scripts broke centuries of silence. And you'll marvel at fascinating objects once shrouded in mystery, including the iconic Rosetta stone.
Writing and Civilization offers the chance to not only discover the history of ancient writing systems, but also the rare opportunity to actually hear those scripts read aloud and to learn the meaning of their messages hidden in plain sight.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Accessible and entertaining

Any audiobook which has me choosing to listen to it rather than Radio 4 when I'm driving must be good.

Initially the information given was more along the lines of what I'd already heard and half remembered or sometimes what seemed obvious once explained; but more and more the course took me into unfamiliar territory, yet remained easy to listen to.

It certainly also swept away some preconceptions that I had about Mayan and Aztec scripts which I gphad not particularly thought about, but had not realised were so developed.

I would say the one draw back is that although there is a PDF which can be downloaded with the book this must be the audio track of a video course. There are a number of references in later sections where it is clear Zender is showing something, for example he spoke of different styles of copying Mayan script, but we only have the final version in the pdf. This should should not put off those who have a general interest in the subject as he gives a good verbal description, but might be more of a problem to someone who is listening as part of a formal study programme. This is the only reason I've marked it down slightly.
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- Catriona

A fascinating overview of writing

This is a fascinating review of a complex evolving science that affects us all. The lectures explore writing in socio-historical contexts and examine a wide range of scripts. The narration is clear abd informative.
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- Patrick

Book Details

  • Release Date: 27-09-2013
  • Publisher: The Great Courses