Discuss The Evolution Of Writing Material Till The Advent Of Printing?


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These days when we think of writing materials, we automatically think of paper and pen or advanced technologies including computers. Writing materials have however developed greatly through centuries beginning with the earliest - clay, stone or metal inscriptions.

Paper is the most commonly used writing material presently, aside from the more recently invented computer technologies. It was first discovered in China in AD 105 though took a thousand years to reach Europe. Materials prior to paper were:

  • Clay inscriptions
  • Papyrus
  • Bamboo
  • Wax leaves and wood
  • Pergamum (a form of leather)
It is believed that writing developed due to political, cultural and religious expansion and as the materials and tools developed, as did the writing styles. Early forms and methods of writing were symbols, pictures and diagrams. These were used in accordance of clay inscriptions. The most famous of this kind is Egyptian Hieroglyphics.

Printing is an ancient industry that began in China and allowed mass production of the same item. At this time, items such as text or images would be printed onto cloth using a woodblock system and the earliest example is dated from 220 AD. Printing types include:
  • Woodblock
  • Stencil
  • Flat-bed press
  • Movable type
Stencils are also believed to have been used longer than we can date back to. It is one of the easiest ways to do similar to the woodblock idea. The most commonly thought of method for ancient writing is the tablet and roll method. The Egyptians are famous for their writing techniques and they were responsible for this method. It involved molding clay into forms ready for inscribing.

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