Click for Ann Arbor, Michigan Forecast
Saturday May 27, 2017
Follow us: facebook twitter RSS feed
Print Comment E-mail

This Fertile Land



Display cases contain foot-high burgundy-velvet ziggurats displaying the tiny black carved-stone discs. Next to each one is a clay blob showing the impression each seal-stamp makes - spindly yet stately ibexes, vigorous shamans, or geometric patterns.

Placards explain that the seals were used to impress globs of clay onto the knots of tied bundles of trade goods, or onto a door meant to be kept shut. They were used to stamp palm-size clay "envelopes" containing marble-like tokens denoting numeric values of goods. The envelope's recipient would smash open this pouch to "read" the tokens.

The exhibit's most striking aspect is its revelation of the use of abstract symbols by a preliterate society. A cross within a circle denotes "sheep," and this figure with an added chevron, alluding to female genitalia, denotes "ewe." This semiabstract symbolism, connecting ancient literal pictographs to modern abstract language, marks the birth of writing.

Bookmark and Share
previous  ·  1 l 2 l 3 l 4  ·  next page
all on one page
read more stories here -> Marketplace  l  Culture  l  Community  l  News

You might also like:

The Dave Tuck Skate Jam
Defying death, for a cause
Dan Meisler
Today's Events
Miss Muehlig, Meet Dr. Rahmani
The spot where her house once stood will become an uncommonly graceful 6-story building.
Sally Mitani
Restaurants with Gluten-free Options Available
A clickable zoomable map
Crime Map
A clickable, zoomable map
Schools Millage
On May 2, the AAPS will ask voters to extend and expand the schools' sinking fund.
James Leonard
Nightspots: Rush Street
Ma, Meyer, and Thile
The ebb and flow of ideas
arwulf arwulf
Another Reprieve for English Gardens
They'll be at Maple Village through year-end
Sally Mitani
Grillin' 2017 June 11th, 3-8pm - Ann Arbor MI
Greek Festival June 9-11, 2017
Grillin' 2017 June 11th, 3-8pm - Ann Arbor MI