Inscriptions of Ashoka

Discussing the culture of the Mauryan era, ‘A History of India’ has this to say on the spread of writing during those days: “The age of the Maurya kings was a period of rapid cultural development. 

To judge by the Ashoka inscriptions found in many regions of India, and also in the territory of modern Afghanistan, writing was fairly widespread as early as the third century B.C. However, there is little doubt that it existed several centuries earlier as well. 

In many Buddhist writings there are references to an exchange of letters, to the recording of royal decrees, to scribes and the study in schools of the art of writing alongside with arithmetic. In Panini’s grammar, there are special terms to denote script and scribes, and also references to the Greek script. 

Ashokan inscriptions on the walls, rocks and pillars were in the Brahmi script, and also in the Aramaic, Greek, and Kharoshthi scripts, the latter having evolved from Aramaic under the influence Brahmi.