Cambridge Archaeological Journal 2 (26):285–303 (2016)

Authors
Karenleigh Anne Overmann
University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
Abstract
Previous discussions of the origins of writing in the Ancient Near East have not incorporated the neuroscience of literacy, which suggests that when southern Mesopotamians wrote marks on clay in the late-fourth millennium, they inadvertently reorganized their neural activity, a factor in manipulating the writing system to reflect language, yielding literacy through a combination of neurofunctional change and increased script fidelity to language. Such a development appears to take place only with a sufficient demand for writing and reading, such as that posed by a state-level bureaucracy; the use of a material with suitable characteristics; and the production of marks that are conventionalized, handwritten, simple, and non-numerical. From the perspective of Material Engagement Theory, writing and reading represent the interactivity of bodies, materiality, and brains: movements of hands, arms, and eyes; clay and the implements used to mark it and form characters; and vision, motor planning, object recognition, and language. Literacy is a cognitive change that emerges from and depends upon the nexus of interactivity of the components.
Keywords Literacy  Material Engagement Theory  Development of early writing systems  materiality
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Mind and Material Engagement.Lambros Malafouris - 2019 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 18 (1):1-17.
Thinking Materially: Cognition as Extended and Enacted.Karenleigh A. Overmann - 2017 - Journal of Cognition and Culture 17 (3-4):354-373.
Immaterial Engagement: Human Agency and the Cognitive Ecology of the Internet.Robert Clowes - 2019 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 18 (1):259-279.
Culture in Mind - An Enactivist Account: Not Cognitive Penetration But Cultural Permeation.Inês Hipólito, Daniel D. Hutto & Shaun Gallagher - forthcoming - In Laurence J. Kirmayer, Carol M. Worthman, Shinobu Kitayama, Robert Lemelson & Constance Cummings (eds.), Culture, mind, and brain: Emerging concepts, models, applications. New York, NY, USA:
Concepts and How They Get That Way.Karenleigh Overmann - 2019 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 18 (1):153-168.

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