Pictographic writing was the first stage of the development of human writing culture (and the last - road signs are pictograms as well). When alphabets, cuneiform and even hieroglyphs were not yet invented, people used to draw pictures on walls of their caves, on large rocks and small instruments, to show others some events from their life. That was something in the middle between art and writing - the only difference between pictograhics and art is that the writer wanted to leave a message expressed in images, not the image itself.
The oldest samples of pictographic signs date from the Stone Age, though it is hard to say when the so-called petroglyphs, cave art, began to turn into writing. The main thing that distinguishes the pictographics from any ordinary script is its universal meaning - no exact word lies behind the picture, it can be understood in any language, and without language at all. Thus, a pictogram can be read as a word, a word combination, or even the whole story.
Pictograms are divided into subtypes: "icon-type" pictograms show similarity with the object they depict - the sun means "a day", "the sun", "to shine"; but "symbolic" pictograms lost their similarity to the object and are understood as a symbol of it only - a round meaning "the sun". Pictographic inscriptions could consist of one complicated sign which included several elements and could be read as a sentence.
Such writing of ancient nations, which spoke a
language we cannot discover nowadays, were found in many places on Earth
- in America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia. While the exact place of
the Indo-European homeland we can only accept theories which exist on the
issue. One of them is the theory of the Asian homeland of Proto-Indo-Europeans.
There, between the Caucasus and Mesopotamia, in a mountainous region near
the lake Wan (modern East Turkey and Armenia), caves and stones still keep
ancient writing left by those whose language is unknown. Were they Indo-Europeans?
Nowadays neither archaeology, nor linguistics can answer this question
for sure. But if they were, then these signs are the first script Indo-European
people used, about six thousand years ago.
More about Proto-Indo-Europeans: