Monday 10 July 2023


The Art of LETTERING began over 2000 years ago. It began with inscribed symbols on the walls and floors of the caves the early men lived. These symbols were meant to "represent a particular meaning or idea,"(as in, the symbols on the Rock mountains in the African Sahel and the Sahara desert which are over 5000 years old and the 'lshango bone' which carbon dating indicates to be 27,000 yrs). This had developed into ideograms (as in china, 380 BC), hieroglyphics (as in Kemet, about 2800 BC) and cuneiforms(as in Sumer, during the reign of Sargon). 

The last phase in the development was the origin of the alphabets, which 'represented sound instead of ideas and meanings.'

According to the encyclopedia Britannica, "the origin of alphabets can not be given with precision." But the general position is that it originated in ancient North Africa, Syria or Sumer. This is based in part, on a legend, 'epic of Gilgamesh' and an account of Sumer by Flavius Josephus. According to encyclopedia Britannica, the spread of the alphabets, 'in the middle east, from Africa, naturally caused a commingling of alphabets as a result of attempts by traders and merchants to achieve a maximum volume of trade with minimum confusion. The spread was by way of the Phoenicians in northern African empires that were occupied or taken over.'

Hindu-arabic numerals (1234) originated in ancient India and was brought into Europe via Iberia by African Maghrebs in the 8th century CE. During the early years of the Spanish inquisition, these numbers were burnt everywhere as "signs of the devil." The printing press that facilitated the wider use of lettering was invented by Johannes Gutenberg of Mainx in 1450. Before then, all letterings were preserved through 'handwriting.' 

The Akan people of West Africa had "adinkra written symbols." Indians had sangkrit. 'Aljami' writing was used by the Kanem-Borno empire (northeast Nigeria, Chad, Northwest Cameroon)in the 15th century CE. Arabic, tibetan scripts, Hebrew-Aramaic script (in which the Hebrew bible was initially written), all came at different eras in the process of development of the 'written word.' 

The Ibibio, Ekoi, Efik and Igbo found in today Nigeria and Cameroon make use of the Nsibidi symbols. circa at least 400 AD (possibly earlier, 2000 BC) – present. 

The blimbos caves(known to be 74,000 yrs), in Southern Africa, contains geometric symbols that were a form of non-verbal, preserved, communications. Every society, initially, developed its intellectual sphere at its own pace, dictated by environment.

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