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Laura Hawkins, Oxford University, to Lecture on Writing of the Ancient Near East

Laura Hawkins, Oxford University, will give a lecture at Washington and Lee University on “A Writing Revolution: How and Why Writing Spread in the Ancient Near East,” on Wednesday, Dec. 10, at 4:30 p.m. in Northen Auditorium, Leyburn Library.

The lecture is free and open to the public. After the talk, Tim Lubin, W&L professor of religion, will discuss “Writing Eastward: from India to Borneo” in a brief afterword.

Hawkins, a doctoral researcher at the University of Oxford in the Faculty of Oriental Studies, will begin with an overview of cuneiform writing, showing how the signs acquired syllabic phonetic values, a characteristic which may have been important in the script’s adoption throughout the ancient Near East for use in a variety of languages. She will offer some conclusions on why cuneiform was such a successful technological innovation in the region.

Lubin will pick up the thread in ancient India, where a new script, probably inspired by the one used for Aramaic, was designed to publish the edicts of the Emperor Asoka in Magadha Prakrit. This script, also a type of syllabary, subsequently spread across South and Southeast Asia, being adapted to write texts in many different languages, for many different purposes.