Because May is “Get Caught Reading Month,” my last post was a little history lesson on cuneiform, which marked the beginning of storytelling as we know it today. Another powerful form of communication, oral storytelling, is a popular tradition in Native American culture. I am going to shift from the the goal of “get caught reading” to “get caught listening,” not only because oral storytelling has such a rich tradition, but because it also has a place in my heritage.
Native American stories were passed down for centuries, exploring everything from practical advice on preparing food to stories of friendship. Most were shared in order to pass wisdom from one generation to the next. The culture was grounded in the knowledge that history can teach us invaluable lessons on life. It is our responsibility not only to apply this knowledge to our lives, but to pass it on to the next generation. And isn’t that the goal of many stories, whether written or spoken? These words are not only meant to entertain; stories can inspire, encourage and ultimately improve our lives and the world around us.
Image 1 credit:www.pnsn.org
Image 2 credit: native-americans-online.com
May is “Get Caught Reading Month,” so in light of the importance and intrigue of the written word, I thought I would go back to where it all began. The earliest form of writing changed communication forever, lending a permanency oral communication couldn’t offer. Since the inhabitants of Mesopotamia developed cuneiform writing around 3300 to 2990 B.C.E., humans have had the ability to record stories that have been passed down for millennia.
The earliest known piece of literature, the narrative poem The Epic of Gilgamesh, was found in cuneiform, and was written by multiple authors beginning around 2100 B.C.E. It took around a thousand years for the final story to be completed, and the wedge shapes on clay tablets laid a foundation for storytelling that would eliminate the boundaries of communication. Later, the Phoenicians developed the signs for consonants that have been modified over time tot he alphabet we see today. It’s hard to imagine a world without written text, and this reminds us to never take for granted our ability to read, learn, and grow.
This clay tablet, which is 2,600 years old, was found in 2015 and adds 20 lines to The Epic of Gilgamesh.