Duisburger Arbeiten zur Sprach- und Kulturwissenschaft

Band 82:
Haarmann, Harald: Writing as Technology and Cultural Ecology. Explorations of the Human Mind at the Dawn of History. 373 S. - Frankfurt am Main / Berlin / Bern / Bruxelles / New York / Oxford / Wien: Lang, 2011.
ISBN: 978-3-631-61736-6

Writing is unanimously regarded as a marker of civilization in the sense of 'civilization as high culture'. This insight has never been seriously questioned. What makes writing a marker of civilization is more than its mere function as an information technology. Those who possess writing have always been aware that, beyond the practical use of rendering ideas and words in the written code, it constitutes the realm of symbolic values that make writing an ingredient of cultural ecology. In order to perceive the magnitude of the art of writing as a communicational tool designed by the inventive mind, it is necessary to shed light on the cultural conditions in human communities that further the motivation of early writing. The present outline therefore does not only focus on a formal description of the ancient scripts as an information technology but also on the evolution of human symbol-making and on an inspection of the sociocultural conditions which made the elaboration of a system of visual communication – of first writing – possible.


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Introduction: Elementary parameters in the study of ancient writing systems S. 13
1.   The intentionality of symbol-making and the working of cultural memory S. 33
2.   Sign systems as constructs of the abstract mind – Communication systems in processes of higher-order knowledge-construction S. 55
3.   Models of ancient civilizations – Oecumene versus state S. 83
4.   Conditions for the transition to literacy – Deconstructing a Euro-American myth S. 125
5.   Writing technology and cultural ecology in societies without statehood (1): First writing in communities of the oecumene model S. 137
6.   Writing technology and cultural ecology in societies without statehood (2): First writing and the transition to social hierarchy S. 199
7.   Writing technology and cultural ecology in communities of the state model S. 219
8.   Ancient scripts and their principles of writing S. 249
9.   The composition and systematic structuring of sign inventories S. 279
10.   The cultural ecology of writing materials and writing techniques S. 301
11.   The dissemination and proliferation of ancient scripts S. 315
Epilogue: First writing and the differential fabric of ancient civilizations S. 341
Bibliography S. 343
Figures S. 369
Maps S. 373