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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The "Please get rid of your gum and get your paper and pencil ready" Story

It was a ordinary day.  Carol was visiting with a friend so I had the TV to myself.  Doesn't happen very often during the day, so I pulled up the menu and found a show that was about the top discoveries that changed mankind.  Interesting show, but what really got me was when they hit the top five on the list.  It was like going back in time and teaching my Graphic Arts class all over again.  So I'll give you the five important discoveries in reverse order and make sure you remember them, since I may quiz you at a later date.(#5) The development of Cuneiform writing.  I remember teaching about Cuneiform writing and how it was perhaps the beginning of the written word in civilization.  The name comes from the Latin word cuneus meaning "wedge" owing to the wedge-shaped style of writing.  
  1. In cuneiform, a carefully cut writing implement known as a stylus is pressed into soft clay to produce wedge-like impressions that represent word-signs, known as pictographs, and later phonograms or "word-concepts" which is closer to our modern day understanding of a word.  The system was first developed by the ancient Sumerians of Mesopotamia around 3500-3000 BCE (Before Christian Era).  The earliest cuneiform tablets were pictorial but eventually developed into more complex word representations.  One no longer had to struggle with the meaning of a pictograph, since one could now read a word-concept using characters.  The characters used were greatly reduced over time from about 1,000 to 600.  Makes our alphabet of 26 letters seem small.  Cuneiform writing is certainly not easy to read and takes someone skilled with patience to accomplish the job.  
  2. (#4)  The Moon Rock was listed as the 4th most important discovery in civilization.  Rocks brought back from the moon on either a US expedition of one by a Soviet expedition have been measured by radiometric dating techniques.  
    They have ranged in age from 3.16 billion years to up to 5.3 billion years old.  The oldest ages of rocks from the Earth are between 3.8 and 4.28 billion years old.  Rocks from Earth and similar to Moon rocks in some regards, but very different in others.  When the first specimen of rocks was opened, it was said that the atmosphere was hushed and expectant.  The scientists were clad in surgeon's gowns and caps and carrying gas masks for use in case they should be exposed to any moon dust.  It was determined that moon rocks and dust hold no threat to life on earth and how no fossil life, living organisms and not organic material.  Much was determined about the moon by using the rocks that were brought back to Earth.  I Googled "Moon Rocks" and found you could bid on them on eBay.  
  3.  (#3)  So here's another topic that I covered in my Graphic Arts class in high school.  The discovery of the Rosette Stone.  It is reported that this stone is the Code Book of the universe.  It was discovered at Rosette in 1799 by Napoleon's army and proved the key to deciphering Egyptian Hieroglyphs.  
    The person who found it was Pierre Francois-Xavier Bouchards, a French officer of engineers.  It was sent to the Institut d'Egypte in Cairo and then taken to London in 1802.  While at the British Museum it was described as a priestly decree affirming the cult of 13-year-old Ptolemy V.  It tells of an agreement between Egyptian priest and the pharaoh on March 27, 196 B.C. and names honors bestowed on Macedonian Pharaoh Ptolemy V Epiphanes.  The stone itself is inscribed with a decree issued at Memphis, Egypt.  It appears in three scripts : the upper text is Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, the middle portion Demotic script and the lowest Ancient Greek.  Since it says basically the same thing in all three scripts, it is said to provide the key to modern understanding of Egyptian hieroglyphs. 
  4. (#2) The importance of Coinage.  The earliest coins appeared simultaneously in two places; China and western Asia Minor in the late seventy century B.C.  
    Whether they were invented by the Ionian Greeks or by the neighboring Lydians will probably never be known, but it was the Greeks who spread coinage throughout the Mediterranean.  The use of the barter system eventually came to an end with the discovery of coinage in the world.  Metals nowadays serve the main purpose of money in the form of coins.  
  5. (#1)  And, the most important discovery that changed mankind was the Bible.  It changed the course of history and was used in not only Christianity, but in Judaism and Islam.  Skeptics claim that the Bible has been changed, however, it is important to define the terms that apply to the source of our English Bible.  Autographs were the original texts written either by the author's hand or by a scribe under their personal supervision and could be changed if not understood by the writer of the document.  
    Manuscripts were the first printed documents that didn't arrive until 1456 with the invention of movable type which was attributed to Johann Gutenberg.  He produced the first printed Bible in Latin.  Up until that time the Bible was hand copied onto papyrus, parchment or paper.  You can easily see how some things could be changed by the monks and scribes who did the hand copying.  Translations also could have caused some changes when the Bible was translated in to different languages from the original Hebrew and Greek.  The first English translation was by John Wycliffe in 1380 and was prepared from the Latin Vulgate.  Heavens, I had Latin in school and I'm positive that I translated many of the words differently than they really were.  
So, these are the five events or discoveries that allegedly changed the world.  Whether you agree with it or not, they certainly were important.  And, I think I found a very interesting TV channel that I will be watching again.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

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