The Invention of WritingGAMBIER, Ohio (November 4, 2004) Common wisdom has it that writing and mathematics are two very different, even opposing, ways of making sense of the world. But Denise Schmandt-Besserat has shown that the written word originated in the process of counting.
Schmandt-Besserat will share the story of her research in a lecture, "The Invention of Writing," on Monday, November 8, at 7:30 p.m. in Kenyon College's Higley Hall Auditorium. On Tuesday, November 9, she will present a Common Hour talk, "The Origin of Counting," at 11:10 a.m. in Philomathesian Hall, Ascension 220.
A professor of art and Middle Eastern studies at the University of Texas at Austin, Schmandt-Besserat traced the earliest written signs to a numbering system that she discerned in clay fragments from archaeological sites in the Middle East. Her discovery solved a mystery that had baffled archeologists, anthropologists, and philosophers for hundreds of years.
Schmandt-Besserat is the author of Before Writing and How Writing Came About. She has recently written a children's book entitled The History of Counting. Schmandt-Besserat's scholarship has been featured in Life, the New York Times, Scientific American, and the Washington Post. Her appearance at Kenyon is sponsored by the Faculty Lectureships Committee.