Ligatures emerged duly on ancient written artifacts. Since the oldest find bears numerous ligatures, and even later this way of sign building emerges quite frequently, it is very likely that this writing method is about the same age as the proto-alphabet.
I must state that according to modern results the contraction of letters has always been up to the person who was putting down those letters. If that person was not in the mood to create ligatures, the text he or she was writing, was completed with no ligatures in it. This must have been the same way in ancient times, too, as most of the uncovered text-fragments included ligatures, one or two at a time, scattered among the rest of the characters.
The foremost point of ligatures is that the compound signs need to be read out sound by sound. Here is an example to show this, according to the modern pronunciation of letters:
The ligature above reads like this: PAX
Our ancestors used ligatures daily. They must have enjoyed using them as their imagination could have indeed come into full display. They built ligatures from concepts rendered to signs as well:
The Sumer ligature above according to a Sumer meaning of 4-5.000 years reads “big family”, and “children”, “goat-kids” (See it in details in the Sumer chapter of the book).
The above modern ligature could have been easy for anyone 31.000 years ago as the four signs that make it up are included in the proto-alphabet as well, and sign-compounds exactly like this did exist at that time (Sign “+” would pass as a concept in connection with family also in the Sumer language. Why is it so – I do not know).
Generally speaking, therefore, phonetic ligatures are syllables or words when uttered, ligatures built from or on concepts, read one after the other, are
(at least) simple sentences. Each sign-compound can be understood at their utterance. According to the above: every ligature can be uttered. A ligature is easy to spot: the basic signs are always clearly seen. Below is the collection of the so far discovered ligatures (along with the single elements that make them up). The cultural historical importance of these ancient sign-combinations is invaluable.
From the Lascaux-“cages” I present here but two at this point, I have already brought to the reader the whole scale of similar signs. It is interesting to note that the ligatures (found on the bone-flute and in Alvao) in the bottom row point to sound writing.