Wednesday, December 24

Clay spheres as bills of lading in 8500 B.C.

What do you reckon these figures might represent? Toys, drawings by a child, some ancient coins?





If you have answered anyone of the above, you got it all wrong!

These clay objects that look like geometrical shapes (cones, spheres, disks, etc.) were actually symbols used in commerce to indicate numbers and types of commodities (sheep, oil, etc.). Unbelievable-right? But the guess work is done by a scholar named Denise Schmandt-Besserat, University of Texas at Austin.

As per Denise, the clay objects which were less than an inch in size were apparently sealed in hollow clay spheres to make bills of lading as early as 8,500 B.C. This is 5,000 years before two-dimensional clay tablets were introduced for writing.

Denise Schmandt
is a p
rofessor emerita of Art and Middle Eastern Studies. Her specialization is "the origin of writing and counting".

Gratitude to Science Frontiers.


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