As THE WORLD’S first cities developed in southern Mesopotamia around 3400-3000 вс, officials developed a way of recording administrative and economic information. Representations of goods issued as rations or put into store were drawn on pieces of clay using a sharp stick or reed. Circular or crescent-shaped impressions represented numbers. These pictographs became increasingly abstract and the end of the reed was simply pressed into the clay leaving wedge-like lines, or cuneiform (the Latin for wedge is cuneus).
This tablet records the allocation of rations. One pictogram represents a human head with a triangular object that looks like a bowl being brought up to the mouth. The triangle shape is the regular symbol for bread, and this combination of pictographs expressed the idea of eating. It was later used to write the Sumerian verb ku, ‘to eat’.”