I’m obsessed with learning different writing systems, but keeping things organized can be difficult. Fortunately, very few writing systems are independent inventions: most are derived from other scripts. To make things easier for myself, I created a taxonomic tree of all writing systems descended from Egyptian Hieroglyphs.1,2 Also included are some inspired orthographies such as Cherokee, which was invented by Sequoyah through the process of “stimulus diffusion”. Click here for the full screen version (recommended).
Mouse over a node in this tree to see some information about the script.
32nd century BC to 5th century AD
While many of these writing systems have historically attested geneologies, I had to apply some guesswork in assembling this tree. I relied on Wikipedia as both a source itself and as a platform for finding primary sources (many of these primary sources weren’t properly reflected in the articles citing them, requiring me to make some edits).
Writing systems that aren’t included in this taxonomic tree are Chinese logograms and their descendents, the writing systems of the Americas, proto-writing systems (which are hard to classify), and a few unclassified odds and ends (Easter Island glyphs).