International Conference

Origins of Early Writing Systems

Oct. 4 to 7, 2007   Peking University


╣ Conference Program ╠


Oct. 4 (104

9:00-17:30 RegistrationVenue: Shao Yuan/勺园)

18:00 Reception Dinner (Venue: Shao Yuan/勺园)


Oct. 5 (105

Conference Venue: Lecture Hall of the Democratic Building/民主楼(the 2nd floor

8:30-9:00: Opening Speeches

Introduction: Yushu Gong, Peking University   Presentation

  1) Welcome: Zhaoxiang Cheng, Dean, College for Foreign Languages, PKU   Presentation


9:00-12:00 (1). Comparative Studies of Early Writing Systems

Chairs: Robert Englund (UCLA), Françoise Bottéro (French National Center for Scientific Research)


1) Jerrold S. Cooper, Johns Hopkins University (9:30-10:00)   Presentation

       Pictures of the Mind: Early Writing in Ancient Iraq and Ancient China

2) Yushu Gong (co-authors: Haiying Yan, Yinghui Ge), PKU (10:00-10:30)   Presentation

        The Accounts of the Origin of Writing from Sumer, Egypt and China: A Comparative Perspective


10:00-10:20 Coffee Break


3) John Steele, University of Durham (10:20-10:50)   Presentation

       The Language of Astronomy in Babylonia and China

4) Gordon Whittaker, Universitat Göttingen (10:50-11:20)   Presentation

       Chinese and Mesopotamian Writing: A Further Comparison of Early Systems

5) Benjamin Studevent-Hickman, Oriental Institute, Chicago (11:20-11:50)   Presentation

       Directionality in the Cuneiform and Chinese Scripts


11:50-13:30 Lunch

13:30-17:30 (2). Writing and Its Uses

Chairs: David I. Owen (Cornell University), J-J. Glassner (CNRS, Paris)



1) Eva Cancik-Kirschbaum, Freie Universitat, Berlin (13:30-14:00)   Presentation

       The Functions of Writing in the Earliest Documents

2) Gebhard Selz, University of Vienna (14:00-14:30)   Presentation
       The Evolution of Early Mesopotamian Writing Systems as Reflected in Lexical Lists

3) Theodora Seal, University of Geneva (14:30-15:00)   Presentation

       A Peculiar Aspect of the Cuneiform Script: The Diri-Compound


15:00-15:20 Break

15:20-17:20 (3) Early Writing Systems in Western Asia


4) Robert Englund, UCLA (15:20-15:50)   Presentation

       The Smell of the Cage

5) Th. J. H. Krispijn, University of Leiden (15:50-16:20)   Presentation
       The Earliest Mesopotamian Script and the Dawn of Phonetics

6) Joachim Marzahn, Vorderasiatisches Museum, Berlin (16:20-16:50)   Presentation
       Scribal Techniques in the Material of the Texts from Uruk IV-III


Discussion following the afternoon talks

18:00 Dinner


Oct. 6106

8:30-11:45 (4) Change Within, Spread Without

Chairs: H. Zemel (CAENO), G. Selz (Uni. of Vienna)



1) Wayne Horowitz, Hebrew University (8:30-9:00)   Presentation
      Old Babylonian Period Tablets at Hazor: The Earliest Writings of the Cuneiform Southwest

2) Pier Giorgio Borbone, University di Pisa (9:00-9:30)   Presentation
      Semitic Writing in China

3) Jun Ikeda, Tsukuba, Japan (9:30-10:00)   Presentation 

      An Examination of Early Japanese Writing

 Break 10:00-10:15


4) Fan Lin, University of PLA, China (10:15-10:45)    Presentation

       A Calligrapher's Interpretation of Early Chinese Writing

5) John Tang, Peking University (10:45-11:15)   Presentation   

        A Comparative Study of Phonetic Complements in Near Eastern Cuneiform and Jurchen Siniform

6) Mark Wilson, CCSG, London (11:15-11:45)   Presentation

       New Sources and New Implications: Fossil Rabbits in the Precambrian


11:45-13:30 Lunch


13:30-17:30 (5) Early Writing Systems in Western Asia (continued)

Chairs: Th. J. H. Krispijn (Univ. of Leiden), W. Horowitz (Hebrew University)


1) Jean-Jacques Glassner, French National Center for Scientific Research (13:30-14:00)    Presentation

        The Invention of Writing, the Old Babylonian School and the Semiology of the Diviners

2) Isabelle Klock-Fontanille, University de Limoges (14:00-14:30)   Presentation 
       The Genesis of Luwan Hieroglyphics


14:30-14:50 Break


3) Jacob L. Dahl, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, and Freie Universitat, Berlin (14:50-15:20)   Presentation
Deciphering Proto-Elamite

4) Grégory Chambon, FU, Berlin (15:20-16:40)   Presentation

   Calculating and Representing: Origins of Writing sexagesimal Numbers in Mesopotamia


18:00 Dinner


Oct.7 (107)

9:00-12:00 (5) Indigenous Perspectives on Writing

Chairs: J. Cooper (Johns Hopkins Univ.), Yushu Gong (Peking University)



1) Yinghui Ge, Peking University (9:00-9:30) with translation    Presentation

       The Origin of Numbers and Characters

2) Françoise Bottéro, French National Center for Scientific Research (9:30-10:00)   Presentation missing  Only Discussion  
       Chinese Writing: Ancient Indigenous Perspective


Break (10:00-10:20)

3) Dali Xu (徐大立),Bengbu(蚌埠) Municipal Museum (10:20-10:40), with translation.

       Prehistoric (ca. 5300 B.C.) Pottery Marks from Shuangdun, Bengbu


10:40-11:30 Closing Session and Discussions

Chair: Yiyi Chen, Peking University



1) Henry Zemel (10:40-10:50)    Presentation

2) Jerrold Cooper (10:50-11:00)    Presentation

3) Yuhong Wu (11:00-11:10)   Presentation

4) Yushu Gong (11:10-11:20)

5) Comments from participants (11:20-12:00)


12:00 Farewell Lunch