Reading and Writing


Sumerian Logographs

4000 BC

This is the earliest writing system established and was solely composed of pictures of objects and events

Egyptian Hieroglyphics

3,200 BC

Hieroglyphs were called, by the Egyptians, “the words of God” and were used mainly by the priests. It combined logographic, syllabic and alphabetic elements, with a total of some 1,000 distinct characters.

Phoenician Alphabet

2000 BC

It was the first alphabetic script to be widely used. The writing system is called abjad and consists of 22 letters. Constant aplhabet and no vowel indication

Greek Alphabet

800 BC

Greek was first written in Mycenae with a script known as Linear B, which was used between 1500 to 1200 BC
The Greek alphabet has been in continuous use since about 750 BC. It was developed from the Canaanite/Phoenician alphabet and the order and names of the letters are derived from Phoenician. It was the first alphabetic script to have distinct letters for vowels and consonants


300 BC

He was the first to give readers some room to breathe when he created a system of marks for augmenting texts written according to the rules of classical rhetoric. Aristophanes created a system where people could add dots to lines of text to signify pauses.

Medieval Scribes

700 AD

During the 12th and 13th centuries there was a relatively rapid change in the mode of production of books. Secular scribes were employed by booksellers to transcribe books on a commercial basis. The monasteries themselves began purchasing books from commercial booksellers rather than transcribing them themselves. This resulted in a division of responsibility for the various phases of production of a book. The scribe left appropriate spaces for decorative initials, miniatures, borders and rubric headings, and was occupied purely with transcribing the text. The rubricator became a specialised job, acting also as a proofreader. The illustrator then added the decoration according to the instructions of the bookseller.

Spaces Between Words

Approx. 900 AD

The separation of words, which allowed silent reading, originated in manuscripts copied by Irish scribes but spread to the European continent only in the late 10th centruy