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A to Z: The First Alphabet

The birth of writing and the first alphabet were among the world’s most vital inventions.

Premiered: Runtime: 54:01Topic: Ancient WorldsAncient WorldsNova
Premiered on PBS

Where would we be without the world’s alphabets? Writing has played a vital role in the development and expansion of cultures throughout history. But researchers are only now uncovering the origin story to our own alphabet, which may have gotten its beginnings in a turquoise mine 4,000 years ago. From the shape of the letter A to the role of writing in trade and storytelling, discover how the written word shaped civilization itself. (Premiered September 23, 2020)

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Additional funding for "How Writing Changed the World" is provided by the George D. Smith Fund.

Major funding for NOVA is provided by the David H. Koch Fund for Science, the NOVA Science Trust, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and PBS viewers.