A Brief History of Writing - Deepstash
A Brief History of Writing

A Brief History of Writing


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A Brief History of Writing

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History of writing: Some of the first tools

Some of the first tools for writing were the hunting club and the sharpened stone. Cave dwellers scratched pictures onto the walls of cave dwellings. It represented daily events such as planting crops or hunting victories.

With time, systematised symbols were developed from their drawings that represented words and sentences but were quicker and easier to draw. The symbols became shared among groups.


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  • Early merchants used clay tokens with pictographs to record the quantities of materials traded or shipped. These tokens date back to 8500 BCE. The pictographs evolved and became abstract figures representing sounds.
  • Around 400 BCE, the Greek alphabet was developed and replaced pictographs as a commonly used form of visual communication. They also wrote script from left to right. The Greeks used a writing stylus made of metal, bone or ivory to put marks on wax-coated tablets.


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  • Ink. The Chinese invented 'Indian Ink', a mixture of soot from pine smoke and lamp oil mixed with the gelatin of donkey skin and musk. By the year 400, a stable form of ink consisted of iron salts, nutgalls, and gum. It became a formula for centuries.
  • Paper. Early Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, and Hebrews used papyrus and parchment papers around 2000BCE. Wood-fiber paper was invented in China in the year 105.
  • Writing implements. Romans created a reed-pen from the hollow tubular stems of marsh grasses.


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  • The quill pen was used for the longest period in history. It was taken from living bird feathers in the spring. A quill pen lasted for one week before it had to be replaced.
  • In 1436, Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. The ability to mass-produce writing revolutionised the way humans communicate.


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