DISCUSSION: To answer this question, you should check the section of the passage where it talks about the clay tablets found in Uruk. Do this before looking at the answers. By skimming the section, you can load all the relevant information into your head, and easily find the right answer.
The Uruk tablets are discussed on lines 1-10. The central features are:
- They date from 3000 BC. A relatively early date.
- Few pictographs. More abstract symbols
- Not so. 1992 is the date of Schmandt-Besserat’s book. But Schmandt-Besserat wasn’t the first to understand the tablets.
The passage doesn’t say when we deciphered the meaning of the tablets. But since they have “long puzzled” researchers (line 10), presumably it was a while ago.
- CORRECT. Lines 4-5 say this directly.
- You might have found this tempting, based on paragraph four. But paragraph four is only describing the “flexible” part. The symbols were already abstract, see lines 5-9.
- The whole passage is just talking about how the tokens and tablets noted quantities of goods. That’s not necessarily the spoken language of the people: people say many things; we don’t only talk about quantity! We don’t know much about early Cuneiform. Maybe it had no symbols for art, for example.
- It wasn’t the language’s age that was unexpected. It was the abstract and flexible writing system’s age. See lines 9-10.
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