Some of the world's earliest writing has been found a few miles south of
Baghdad, in a tiny agricultural settlement now called Jemdat Nasr, dating to
3000 BC. One of these two small tablets, lying face up, shows the different
items accounted for, each in its own box on the surface of the clay. The other,
lying face down, shows the total quantity of goods and the pictograms of an ear
of grain, a head and a bowl, together meaning 'food rations'.