The Story of Writing

Alphabets, Hieroglyphs and Pictograms


Without writing there would be no history and no civilization as we know it. But how, when and where did writing evolve?


ISBN: 9780500286609 Category:

Andrew Robinson


In an absorbing text, Andrew Robinson explains the interconnection between sound, symbol and script. He discusses each of the major writing systems in turn, from cuneiform and Egyptian and Mayan hieroglyphs to the scripts of China and Japan, as well as others such as the Cherokee ‘alphabet’ and the writing of runes. Full coverage is given to the history of decipherment, and a provocative chapter devoted to undeciphered scripts: can these codes ever be broken?

In this new edition of the book, the author reveals the latest discoveries to have an impact on the history of writing, including the Tabula Cortonensis showing Etruscan symbols, and a seal from Turkmenistan that could solve the mystery of how Chinese writing evolved. He also discusses how the digital revolution has not, despite predictions, spelled doom for the printed book. In addition, the table of Maya glyphs has been updated.

Additional information

Weight 800 g
Dimensions 19 x 25.5 cm
Publisher name Thames and Hudson Ltd
Publication date 23 April 2007
Number of pages 232
Format Paperback / softback
Dimensions 19 x 25.5 cm
Weight 800 g


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Andrew Robinson has written more than 25 books on the arts and sciences. They include Lost Languages: The Enigma of the World's Undeciphered Scripts, India: A Short History and Earthshock, which won the Association of Earth Science Editors Outstanding Publication Award, plus Earth-Shattering Events . A regular contributor to such magazines as Current World Archaeology, History Today, The Lancet, Nature and Science, he has also been literary editor of The Times Higher Education Supplement and a visiting fellow at the University of Cambridge.