News Roxanna uncovers the history of writing for Newnham College, Cambridge, Essay Prize 01.07.2021

Lower Sixth student Roxanna – awarded a third placed finish in the Newnham College, University of Cambridge Essay Prize – tells us about her entry in the competition.

‘The Newnham College Essay Prize is a competition open to girls in Lower Sixth and includes a range of different categories. This year was the first year that the Archaeology category took place and I answered the question, ‘How and Why was Writing Invented?’.

Researching and writing this essay gave me a chance to learn more about a subject that I would not typically study at school, and was largely inspired by a podcast I listened to on BBC sounds called the Secret History of Writing. I investigated the history of writing in the context of three major birthplaces of writing systems (China, Mesopotamia and Egypt) and aimed to explore their use of the symbolic, iconic, or in the case of early Chinese writing, neither. In researching this essay, I was able to delve deeper into the world of semiotics, which studies how signs and symbols create meaning.

I greatly appreciated the opportunity to write the essay, and was grateful to learn that I had achieved third place!’