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From Counting to Writing

Science News (via GeekPress) reports on the long road From Counting to Writing:

Temple excavations reveal that the Sumerians often kept sets of tokens in clay globes, or envelopes. Temple clerks marked the envelopes by pressing tokens into the soft clay before sealing and baking them, making visible the number and shape of tokens enclosed. Excavated specimens show circular imprints left by spheres and wedge-shaped imprints left by cones. Once sealed in their clay cocoons, the tokens were hidden from view. It didn’t take long for busy bureaucrats to realize that once the clay envelopes were marked, it was no longer necessary to keep the tokens. In fact, the marks by themselves, impressed on a clay tablet, were sufficient.

And for those who can’t even count yet, the secret is in the tokens, guys.