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Early Literature, Art, & Media
Prehistory to 1199 C. E.

Date Event
540,000 - 430,000
Years ago
shell imageShell
540,000 - 430,000 years old, was found at a site on the Solo River in Java by Eugene Dubois at the time he discovered bones of early human, Trinil 2 classified as Homo-erectus.
Are the zig-zag etchings art, doodles, or a means for communicating?
Jonathon Keats: in Discover July 2015
45,000 B.C.E. Carvings: on mammoth teeth, ivory, bone, antlers
20,000 B.C.E. Cave drawings: could have been warnings, messages, recorded history, maps,
Oral traditions:
Notched  sticks: Rope quipu: Wampum:
3500 B.C.E. Cuneiform: wedge shaped, Sumerians, Tigris-Euphrates Rivers, Mesopotamia, stone was scarce so used clay tablets and a stylus, created pictograms and ideograms, open hand = peace, closed hand = war, crown, dish... Later started to use phonograms.
Gilgamesh, one of the oldest stories 4000 years old.
Hieroglyphics: sacred carvings, carved, painted, later on papyrus.
3000 B.C.E. Papyrus: laid strips of papyrus crisscross on a flat stone, treated it with a gum solution, pressed and pounded, polished, and added to a continuous scroll. Wrote with reed brushes.
1400 B.C.E. China writing on bones - Oracle bones Shang China
1270 B.C.E. Syria encyclopedia
770 B.C.E. Alphabet, comes from the first two letters of Greek alphabet: alpha and beta.
  • Hebrew and Arabic created first alphabet.
  • Phoenicians didn't have vowels. They borrowed ideas from the Egyptians.
  • Greeks took some sounds from the Phoenicians and developed the first writing to represent all sounds with 24 letters.
50 B.C.E. China write on bamboo, silk, wood
Greeks created more than an alphabet. They wrote excellent literature, myths, plays, stories, and informational materials about politics, science, and philosophy. Characters included Hercules, Theseues, and the Olympians, ...
200 B.C.E. Codex, skins, vellum, or parchment was durable and easier to write on, fasten pages into a book or make a scroll. Monks copied many pages and put them together into books and manuscripts.
0 B. C. E. ---------- C. E.
105 C. E. Paper originated in China. Its use spread to the middle east in 500, Italy 1270, and Europe 1300.
Romans: copied books, wrote on wood tablets and covered them with wax. Latin word liber is root word for library.
Book comes from boc, Anglos Saxon word for beech, since they carved letters into slabs of beech bark.
220 Chinese invented wood block printing to print on textiles
Canterbury tales
868 First Chinese book - Diamond Sutra - printed with wood block printing
990 - 1051 Chinese invented ceramic movable type.
640?-70? Aldhelm abbot of Malmesbury, First to write lesson books in either rhymed or question-and-answer form.
1033-1109 Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote an encyclopedia on manners and customs, natural science, children's duties, morals, and religious precepts to instruct and instill principles of belief and conduct.
1050-114? Scroll of Animals, Toba Sajo.


[ Next 1200 - 1799 ]