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THE OLDEST WRITINGS, AND INVENTORY TAGS OF EGYPT

Richard Mattessich
The Accounting Historians Journal
Vol. 29, No. 1 (June 2002), pp. 195-208
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40698264
Page Count: 14
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THE OLDEST WRITINGS, AND INVENTORY TAGS OF EGYPT
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Abstract

Günter Dreyer's Umm El-Quaab I — Das prädynastische Königsgrab U-j und seine frühen Schriftzeugnisse presents comprehensively the results of archaeological diggings in the tomb U-j. It also outlines Dreyer's claim to have discovered the origin of writing. The primary aspect of this review essay is to draw the attention of accounting historians to Dreyer's book and to the claim therein to have discovered the earliest known writing. Since this discovery is closely connected to an accounting function (though in a somewhat different way from that of the Sumerian proto-cuneiform writing), a review of Dreyer's book is well justified. Dreyer's claim is based on a series of small inventory tags (identifying in proto-hieroglyphics the provenance of various commodities) found in the tomb of King Scorpion I (c. 3400 B. C. to 3200 B. C.). 1 Another aspect of this review is a discussion of the controversy surrounding Dreyer's claim and the counter-hypothesis of accounting archaeology, which sees in the token-envelop accounting of Mesopotamia the origin of writing.

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