A mystery up until the 19th century, Egyptian hieroglyphs were given birth to shortly after cuneiform writing.
Then followed Chinese characters around the years -1,400 to -1,200 and the Phoenician alphabet around the years -1,300. (It is to be noted that from the latter are derived all modern-day alphabets.)
In India, the Brahmi script seems to be the most ancient of that region with its creation around the years -250.
First text in cuneiform: from Sumer or Elam ?
The first rudimentary forms of writing we know of thus date back to the years – 5,000. On those clay tablets, the first writers kept track of groceries bought and of menial jobs.
As you can see below however, the first real texts date from the years – 3,300/- 3,200.
Clay tablets were found in ancient Mesopotamia in the Sumer region nestled between the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers, north of the Persian Gulf. They were written on in cuneiform script and Sumerian language.
At the same period, it may also have all started in the region of Elam, the eastern (nowadays Iranian) neighbor of the Sumer region, comprised between the Persian Gulf and the Zagros Mountains. Tablets carved with Proto-Elamite script were found there.
The fact that this writing system has yet “only” had 1,200 of its characters deciphered should for sure not be a reason to discard it ! I invite you by the way to try your sleuth abilities on it …
The dates in this article come from this book: Les Ecritures depuis 5000 ans – Des hiéroglyphes au numérique / Editions L'Histoire / Sophia Publications