How did writing evolve?
As populations grew and societies formed, writing became a useful tool to help people keep track of things. As rulers of these populations came into prominence, they demanded that their customs, laws and rituals be recorded. Once a system of recording history was put into place, there was no looking back. Man learned that having an official record of something was important to ensure its legitimacy, and as a result, writing is now regarded as the dividing line between pre-history and history. After writing became standard for recording history, accounting and keeping track of trade, literature was born, with the inscription of oral stories.
Toward the end of the fourth millennium B.C., the first true city was born: Uruk, in Sumer, part of Southern Mesopotamia and today’s Iraq, known as the cradle of civilization. The complexity of a society that numbered as many as 60,000 to 80,000 required a standardized system of writing, again mainly for recordkeeping. Uruk is divided into 18 phases that span about 2,100 years. In phases three and four, we begin to see writing evolve from “proto-writing” to cuneiform, which has long been regarded as the first form of true writing.