Review by Choice Review
Books on the origins of Western writing are often general and suited for the nonspecialist. This excellent volume is a sound and very respectable study of six forms of ancient Mediterranean writing systems: Mesopotamian cuneiform, Egyptian hieroglyphics, early Bronze Age Greek Linear B, classical Greek inscriptions, the now-emerging study of the Etruscan language, and the early alphabet growing out of the Semitic world and passed on to the Greek. Each chapter has appeared as a separate fascicle available through the British Museum; others were "Runes," "Maya Glyphs," and "Mathematics and Measurement." The respective authors are currently the leading scholars for each form of writing. Students of ancient history and ancient languages, of all ages and backgrounds, are presented with scholarly studies containing profound new insights and detailed descriptions of the problems particular to that form of writing, and each essay is profusely illustrated with photographs of texts, and with the peculiarities of each writing system. Valuable bibliographies accompany each chapter, and a thorough index concludes the volume. Each chapter focuses upon the characteristics of that system of writing and its language, and students will find more "gems" and current scholarship herein than in earlier volumes, such as I. J. Gelb, A Study of Writing (rev. ed., 1963). This volume will dominate the studies of ancient Western writing for some time to come. All levels of readers.-J. M. Balcer, The Ohio State University
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.