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The Beginnings of Libraries: 1000s BCE

Let's examine changes in communication with the introduction of the Phoenician Alphabet.

Around 1000 BCE marks the beginning of the Iron Age. It also marks changes in communication and the end of the beginnings of libraries.

Phoenician Alphabet

Although an early version was developed in the 16th century BCS, the modern Phoenician alphabet was developed around 1050 BCE. This writing system became widely used because it was spread by merchants. The Aramaic alphabet is a modified version of Phoenician that evolved into Arabic and Hebrew. An early version of the language can be found on the sarcophagus of the Phoenician king of Byblos, Ahirom around 1000BC.

Phoenician alphabet wikimedia commonsAhriram Wikimedia Commons PD

Cascajal Block Wikimedia Commons PD

Cascajal Block

Written communication can also be found in Mesoamerica. The Cascajal Block is a large serpentinite tablet dating to 1000 BCE containing what may be the earliest writing system in the Mesoamerica.

Attributed to the Olmec group (1250 BCE - 400 BCE), the block contains 62 glyphs in horizontal rows. Controversy still surround the dating and authenticity of the stone found in the late 1990s.

Learn more about the Cascajal Block at Wikipedia.


Burhns, Karen O., Kelker, Nancy L., et. al. (2007). Did the Olmec know how to write? Science, 315(5817), 1365-1366.

Rodriguez, Carmen, Celballos, Ponciano, et. al. (2006). Oldest writing in the new world. Science, 313(5793), 1610-1613.


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