Sometimes I pick up a pencil and paper and I doodle, or I write scrap notes, ideas etc.. For myself, this was the beginning, as it was for pretty much everyone in this generation.
I will never forget learning to write, I was handed a pencil and a piece of paper and slowly but surely we were taught how to form letters, and how to put letters together to form the words which we spoke.
It’s somewhat of a peculiar notion in my opinion, that we learn words yet don’t know what they look like written down. It gives learning to read a whole new perspective.
Well, back to the topic. We all started writing with a pencil and a piece of paper, learning letters, words etc.. That is our beginning. Yet the beginning of the written word for our ancestors would have been a quill and parchment. The utensils that we use for writing have evolved over the years, along with the written word itself, language.
Now as a writer, it is curious to ponder where it all began, where did writing start and why? Surely someone didn’t just get the idea to write down a story or a journal. No. The origins of writing had a much more practical creation.
It is by definition, that the modern practice of history begins with written records, and evidence of human culture without writing is considered to be prehistory.
The earliest known neolithic writings to have been discovered are the Dispillo tablet ( Greece ) and the Tartaria tablet ( Romania ) which have been carbon dated to the 6th millennium BC.
So, to answer the question, why did writing begin?
Well it is assumed that the writing process first evolved from an economic necessity in the ancient Near East, as a consequence of political expansion in ancient cultures. This required the means for reliable transmitting of information, maintaining financial accounts, keeping historical records etc.
Therefore it is concluded that around the 4th millennium BC the complexity of trade and administration was no longer withing the power of memory, therefore writing became a more reliable method of recording and presenting data in a permanent form.
Writing began in the form of clay tokens, clay tablets, stone tablets and so on and so forth and slowly evolved into what it is today.
However, I still like to think that writing began in a sense before this, for a purpose, in my eyes, of much greater value. Cave paintings.
Cave paintings created by the earliest inhabitants of this earth were created and in those paintings were stories. Stories of what they had witnessed, events that had occurred. To look at cave paintings I can only imagine must be akin to looking reading through a storybook.
Writing, just without language, but images today. It is as they say after all, ” a picture can speak a thousand words.”
From paintings on a cave wall, symbols on tablets, ink on parchment, printed words in the pages of books and to the words we see now on our computer screens all over the internet, writing has made an epic journey through time.