9 min

Cuneiform 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy

    • Business

The Egyptians thought literacy was divine; a benefaction which came from the baboon-faced god Thoth. In fact the earliest known script – “cuneiform” – came from Uruk, a Mesopotamian settlement on the banks of the Euphrates in what is now Iraq. What did it say? As Tim Harford describes, cuneiform wasn’t being used for poetry, or to send messages to far-off lands. It was used to create the world’s first accounts. And the world’s first written contracts, too.



Producer: Ben Crighton

Editors: Richard Knight and Richard Vadon



(Image: Close-up of clay tablet, Credit: Kotomiti Okuma/Shutterstock)

The Egyptians thought literacy was divine; a benefaction which came from the baboon-faced god Thoth. In fact the earliest known script – “cuneiform” – came from Uruk, a Mesopotamian settlement on the banks of the Euphrates in what is now Iraq. What did it say? As Tim Harford describes, cuneiform wasn’t being used for poetry, or to send messages to far-off lands. It was used to create the world’s first accounts. And the world’s first written contracts, too.



Producer: Ben Crighton

Editors: Richard Knight and Richard Vadon



(Image: Close-up of clay tablet, Credit: Kotomiti Okuma/Shutterstock)

9 min

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