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  April 5, 2004

Art And Archaeology Event
To Focus On Origins Of Writing

The art of writing will be the topic of this year's Raymond and Beverly Sackler Art and Archaeology Symposium. The event, titled "Writing Civilization: Literacy and Social Transformation in Early Mesopotamia," will take place at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center on Friday, April 16, from 2 to 6:30 p.m.

The invention of writing around 3300-3200 B.C. signaled a new era in human history. The first writing allowed its practitioners to exchange and store information - ranging from complex economic transactions to sacred narrative and early literature - across time and space and was intricately linked to the rise of cities and civilizations.

Recent archaeological and scholarly investigations have opened up new interpretations of the origins of writing and the social contexts through which it evolved. The results of some of these investigations will be presented during the symposium by experts in the field.

Speakers at the symposium are: Jerrold Cooper of Johns Hopkins University, whose address is titled "An Administrative Technology Transformed: The Adaptation of Sumerian Writing for Semitic Languages and the Birth of Cuneiform Literature;" Piotr Steinkeller of Harvard University, who will speak on "Writing Kingship, and Political Discourse in Early Mesopotamia;" Harvey Weiss of Yale, whose presentation is titled "Bad Timing: The Very Brief Life of the Uruk Civilization;" and Robert England from the University of California, Los Angeles, who will talk about "Testing Late Uruk World Systems: An Examination of the Textual Witnesses."

Admission is free. A reception will follow the symposium.