The very existence of writing systems in antiquity presupposes the improvement of the cognitive map of early societies around the world. Written symbols, letter forms and full-fledged alphabets, as well as writing, provided the most effective system developed by people to describe the world around them, to the extent that allowed to organize the administrative organization of complex societies and pass on their knowledge. Among the literate civilizations (communities with writing systems) of antiquity pictograms, inscriptions, written records, and scribes represent a shortcoming of the ancient written traditions that have developed throughout human history. Ancient literature in all its diversity gives a rich idea of the world of great civilizations. The accurate and effective use of such evidence requires an understanding of the social context and historical genesis of the use of writing in different societies in antiquity.
The antiquity of Eritrea is a carving of inscriptions on monumental forms, in particular, up to the 1st millennium BC. The position of the Northern Horn at the junction of major regions of the world has had significant implications for the development of the region as an important and unique center of origin of language groups and cultural exchange, among which literacy development in the region is becoming an important cultural transformation. The expansion of interregional cultural contacts and exchanges observed in the 1st millennium BC in Africa and the Red Sea region has influenced the development of complex societies. During this period, regional policies expanded significantly in the North Horn and the southern Red Sea, and these events and processes influenced the genesis of writing systems, especially in these regions. Thus, the development of writing systems in the North Horn of Africa was largely related to the development of the state in the region.
As for the genesis of writing systems in the Northern Horn, for centuries since epigraph inscriptions were written in most of the highland urban centers that flourished in Eritrea and northern Ethiopia until the 1st millennium BC, the Sabean / Gez dichotomy prevailed. In this regard, the origin and evolution of the Geez writing system (African writing found in Eritrea and Ethiopia) were strongly linked to the processes of interregional cultural contacts and exchanges observed in the 1st millennium BC – 1st millennium AD in Africa and in the Red Sea District.
Epigraphic and monumental evidence of the influence of South Arabia in the 1st millennium BC shows the interaction between human groups living in the Horn and the southern Arabs, in particular the Sabeans, who dominated the mountainous regions of Yemen in the 1st millennium BC. . However, the nature of the interaction is widely discussed. Currently, the available archaeological evidence is very fragmentary. The data do not confirm the migration and / or colonization of South Arabia, although they do not rule out the penetration into the highlands of small groups that came from different regions of Yemen, including Sabu.
Scholars have long suggested the use of terms such as MKRB (mukarib) and MLK (Malik), and references to the cultural features of Saba and South Arabia in ancient Sabean inscriptions found from archeological sites in Eritrea and northern Ethiopia have meant the dominance of Saba. Under current paradigms, the use of inscriptions in the Sabean script by 1st millennium BC communities in the Horn of Africa was, however, limited to ways of describing elite political titles and religious references. There is a general lack of epigraphic information concerning the administrative function, trade, accounting and other essential aspects of the communities of the 1st millennium BC in the North Horn. Thus, modern scholars determine that writing in the South Arabian script does not imply large-scale acceptance of the South Arabian language by these communities or the existence of Sobay migration events, colonization, and the primacy of the Sobies.
Currently, archaeological evidence points to a distinction between an elite that used symbols of South Arabian power and an indigenous people that retains its local traditions. The influence of South Arabia is manifested in monumental architecture, inscriptions and small votive altars. The Egyptian / Merit-style sphinx record also means that both South Arabian and African symbols merged into one religious system in the middle of the 1st millennium BC. Thus, this evidence may indicate that indigenous leaders of the Horn of Africa used foreign elements of other origins to express rank and power, and the origin of writing systems in the Horn dates back to 700 BC. to the interaction of these cognitive mapping processes. It is generally understood that the inclusion of such elements could have taken place over generations rather than the attribution of a limited number of events to the colonization or migration of South Arabia. The genesis of writing systems in the North Horn of Africa is the result of activities of the 1st millennium BC and the inclusion of features from a diverse range of elements in the cultural environment of the southern Red Sea. Writing systems and their epigraphic record represent the dynamism of cultural transformations in the 1st millennium BC. Thus, archaeological records from 1st millennium BC and 1st millennium BC sites in Eritrea and northern Ethiopia are writing systems representing writing similar to the South Arabian, uncalculated elements of Geez (Proto-Geez ) and a full-fledged Geez writing system.
The Geéz writing system is one of the oldest operating systems in the world. This African writing system has remained unchanged for 2,000 years due to its adaptability and innovative methods of organizing sounds. The writing system provides not only a grammar system but also an interface to the ancient world of Africa, its philosophy, belief systems and advanced early societies. It is generally believed that the writing system reached perfection by the fourth or fifth century. In practice, Ge’ez persisted in a wide range of sacred and scholarly activities from the thirteenth to the seventeenth centuries, known as the “classical period” of Geez literature. The birth and evolution of this African writing system culminated in the creation of texts and scribes composed on parchment (Branas). Old parchments preserved in the historical monasteries of Eritrea retain a lack of chronicles and stories especially of the medieval period. Similarly, with regard to the evidence of writing systems and written documents from Eritrea, the Dahlak Islands have a rich heritage of classical Kufic inscriptions (classical Arabic script). Arabic writing developed on the islands from the 8th to the 12th centuries.
In conclusion, the abundance of archaeological and historical evidence of writing systems and written records in Eritrea testifies to one of the few features of writing systems on the African continent. The diversity of evidence suggests an interdisciplinary approach to a comprehensive consideration of the origins, evolution, and development of writing systems, and the preservation of these records is very important for posterity.