Ancient writing gives us our first glimpse of history, people and institutions, and yet its origins remain mysterious. This 2004 book offers a treatment and examination of the origins of ancient writing. It studies often neglected writing systems, such as those of Mesoamerica. The leading scholars in the field collectively discuss new topics and highlight new subtlties about how these scripts came into existence and development during the first centuries of use. Egypt, Mesopotamia, Elamite, Mesoamerica and the Maya, Shang, and Runic are all represented.