Our Modern Alphabet And It’s Ancestors

Even with advancements in our modern technology, relying on the written word is still the main form of communication today. Our alphabet is simple to understand, but it wasn’t always like that. Our modern alphabet use to be composed of symbols and pictures.

The First Written Language

The first written language was painted on cave walls and are as old as 20 000 BC. The paintings often depicted pictures of animals, people, and events. The closest thing to written words later discovered 17,000 years later by Sumerians.

These natives frequently recorded daily events and rituals using pictograms or simple drawings.

When civilizations became more modern there was a growing need to develop a more effective language to communicate complex conversations.

By 3,100 BC, ancient Egyptians carved or painted hieroglyphics to communicate and express concepts in the form of pictures of symbols.

A symbol of an animal could potentially communicate a source of food while the picture of a man with the sun behind his back would demonstrate old age.

Roman Numerals are still used today and symbolize individual fingers of the hand.

By 1, 600BC, Phoenicians created special symbols to replace spoken words frequently called Phonograms. Phonograms were not just for sounds, but they could also stand for words.

The modern alphabet contains symbols and phonograms. For example: A question mark is represented by?, A dollar sign is represented by $, and percent is represented by a %.

The Phoenicians were the first people to develop the first resemblance to our alphabet. An elaborate set of symbols would represent a spoken language like our very own.

Greeks and Romans Adapt the Language to Suit Their Own Needs

A culture which built their homes close to the sea, they needed to develop a way to communicate with other civilizations and people so they could trade goods.

Around 1, 000 BC, The Greeks would later adopt the alphabetic system of the Phoenician for their own use. They modified the alphabet to suit their own needs by creating different styles of handwriting. The term alphabet comes from the Greek Words Alpha and Beta.

Many years later, the Romans would adapt the alphabet from the Greeks to form the first uppercase alphabet we know of today. Handwriting for the Romans was almost like an elaborate art. They created several handwriting styles for various purposes.

A rigid type of text may be communicate letters and documents of importance. A quicker, less rigid, appearing text was for formal and everyday writing. 100 A.D, the Romans created various texts and books without their own developed style of handwriting and still improved upon it by creating a lower case alphabet and a primitive form of punctuation.

The upcoming years would result in people choosing manuscript preparation and development as their trade. This was a highly respected job back then and was practiced frequently in highly regarded buildings such as monasteries.

The Creation of Books

Books were considered highly valuable and not everyone could afford or obtain a book back then. The Romans took such pride in the creation of these books that they often decorated them with elaborate and colorful designs.

Monks would frequently dedicate their lives to the creation of a book if only to make it easier and more convenient to spread information to a world of awaiting people.

The 15th century would revolutionize the way we write today. A German goldsmith worker would develop metal molds to dip into to be pressed into paper. This is most likely how the typewriter was first invented.

The History of PaperMaking

The very first prototype of the paper was first recognized in Egypt around 3000 BC.

The Nile River was home to a special type of grass that was affectionately known as Cyprus Papyrus.

The Egyptians utilized this plant by cutting the grass into strips and soaking them in water.

The grass would be laid down on top of each other to form a mat; with a rock the Egyptian would then hammer the grass so it looked flat and allow it to dry naturally.

The resulting dry substance was thin enough to resemble parchment and was great for writing on. This new writing material would be perfect for recording religious writings, recordkeeping, and even art.

The Egyptians shared their invention with the Romans and Greeks.

During the second century AD, the Mayans developed their own method for creating a somewhat similar writing material.

Meanwhile, on the Pacific islands an alternate form of parchment was created by taking soft bark and shaping it over peculiar looking logs.

The word paper is essentially shortened from the term Papyrus. Both materials are the same in use, but the creation process differs completely.

The closest identical form of paper to ours was originally found in China by T’sai Lun in 105AD.

The Chinese eunuch enjoyed experimenting with many materials to achieve a variety of results. He would mix each individual fiber with water before submerging through the water with a screen to capture each individual fiber on the flat surface. He would then allow the vegetation to dry to form a thin sheet resembling the paper we have today.

Tibet, Japan and Korea would soon follow the same process to create paper for themselves.

During the eighth century, the first religious text was printed on the unique material by the 48th imperial ruler of Japan. He requested that millions of prayers be printed upon individual sheets. This unique project would ensure that the elaborate task of creating paper would not be forgotten.

The art of making paper rapidly spread to other countries. During the war between the Islamic communities and Tang Dynasty, paper would soon reach the shores of the western world. A fateful battle on the banks of the Taurus River ended when Islamic warriors captured Chinese papermakers as prisoners.

The warriors forced the papermakers to create paper by sending them to Samarkand.

The art of papermaking soon spread across the western world, including Baghdad, Europe, and even North Africa.

Europe developed a unique parchment around the 9th century by creating writing material created from the hides of animals. This soon became the much preferred writing material for Europe. Parchment back then was incredibly expensive and would frequently require more material than it typically would today.

A single bible would require a minimum of 300 sheep skins.

When the 15th century rolled around, paper was used on a daily basis by nearly everyone. During the year of 1439, a German goldsmith would create the first moving type of printing. This new creation would become history for the world of paper production.

To this day, modern paper and printing is considered to be one of the most important creations that has had a positive influence on our modern world.

The ever growing demand created a need to experiment with various materials to determine which materials were ideal for creating paper with. Everything from wasp nests to straw and even cabbage was experimented with to isolate the perfect parchment paper.

Experimentation with wood yielded wonderful results and is still used as the choice material to this day. The soft fibers of softwood species such as pine, fir and spruce are frequently used to produce the ideal pulp material for our paper needs.

The increasingly large demand for paper also urged paper makers to find new and efficient ways to create paper to feed the demand. As a result, more efficient paper machines were created.

In this modern society, we depend on mass production of paper for a variety of materials, including but not limited to books, money and newspapers.