Ancient Communication (Part 1)

Technology is as old as human society. It is the use of knowledge, inventions, and discoveries to make life better. This is the premise of Ancient Communication Technology, a book written by Michael and Mary B. Woods.

The word technology comes from two Greek words: techne: art or craft and logos: logic or reason.

“There are many forms of technology. Medicine is one form. Agriculture and machinery are others. Another form of technology that helps make all other kinds of technology possible is communication. To communicate is to share news, ideas, feelings, and images with other people. Communication involves more than just speaking, writing, and reading. It includes art, music, and other nonverbal forms of sharing information. It also includes the equipment people use to share information. Paper, pens, ink, paintbrushes, and books are all forms of communication technology.”

The authors propose that all modern communication techniques owe something to the inventions of the past.

The Dead Sea Scrolls image source:

The Dead Sea Scrolls
image source:

Here are a few of those ancient inventions.

30,000 B.C. Ancient people paint in caves for the first time.

3000s B.C. Mesopotamian writers begin scratching pictographic records on clay tablets.

3100 B.C. Egyptian people learn how to make paper from papyrus.

2800 B.C. Middle Eastern people begin to use pictures to stand for specific sounds.

500s B.C. The Greeks develop the visual telegraph (a series of towers that could be seen

from the tower nearest to it. Holes at the top represented letters; lighting fires

in the holes sent messages, such as ‘danger’.

800s B.C. The Greeks adopt the Phoenician alphabet.

400s B.C. Drama and playwriting flourish in Greece.

190 B.C. The Greeks develop parchment.

59 B.C. Roman leader Julius Caesar starts Acta Diurna (Daily Events), the world’s first daily newspaper.

40 B.C. Roman historian Gaius Asinius Pollio constructs Rome’s first public library.

A.D. 105 Ts’ai Lun creates paper from wood pulp.

100s The Romans begin to write in cursive.

700s Chinese papermaking techniques begin to spread across Europe.

1300 Europe enters the Renaissance.

1500s European settlers arrive in the Americas.

1799 French soldiers discover the Rosetta stone in Egypt (a stone inscribed with three distinct forms of writing – hieroglyphics, demotic writing, and Greek).

1800s Native Americans refine Plains Sign Language (a direct signaling system; its symbols are understood without any reference to a spoken language).

1940s Archaeologists discover Mayan murals at Bonampak in Mexico.

1972 United States scientists launch the Pioneer 10 (the first mission to the planet Jupiter).

2010 Israel announces plans to make the Dead Sea Scrolls available to view online.

The Rosetta Stone image source:

The Rosetta Stone
image source:

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