The history of writing traces the development of expressing language by systems and techniques of markings and how these markings were used for various purposes in different societies, thereby transforming social organization. Writing systems are the foundation of literacy and literacy learning, with all the social and psychological consequences associated with literacy activities.
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In the history of how writing systems have evolved in human civilizations, more complete writing systems were preceded by proto-writing, systems of ideographic or early mnemonic symbols (symbols or letters that make remembering them easier). True writing, in which the content of a linguistic utterance is encoded so that another reader can reconstruct, with a fair degree of accuracy, the exact utterance written down, is a later development. It is distinguished from proto-writing, which typically avoids encoding grammatical words and affixes, making it more difficult or even impossible to reconstruct the exact meaning intended by the writer unless a great deal of context is already known in advance.
The earliest uses of writing in Sumer were to document agricultural produce and create contracts, but soon writing became used for purposes of finances, religion, government, and law. These uses supported the spread of these social activities, their associated knowledge, and the extension of centralized power.
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