How Was Printing Done in Ancient Times?

Printing is an invention that has revolutionized the way we communicate and distribute information. However, the printing technology that we use today has come a long way from its early beginnings.

In ancient times, printing was a manual process that required skilled artisans and considerable effort. In this article, we will explore how printing was done in ancient times.

The Origins of Printing

Printing has been around for thousands of years, with the earliest known form of printing being woodblock printing in China during the 7th century AD. This involved carving an image or text onto a wooden block, coating it with ink, and then pressing it onto paper or cloth.

Moveable Type Printing

Moveable type printing was invented in China during the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD). This involved creating individual characters out of clay or metal and arranging them on a board to create a page of text. The characters were then coated in ink and pressed onto paper.

Gutenberg’s Printing Press

The modern printing press as we know it today was invented by Johannes Gutenberg in the 15th century. His invention revolutionized the way books were produced and made them more accessible to people outside of wealthy circles.

Gutenberg’s press used moveable type made from metal instead of clay. He also developed an oil-based ink that could be applied more evenly to the type and dried quickly. This allowed for faster production and higher quality prints.

The Printing Process

The printing process involved several steps, each one requiring skill and precision.


The first step was typesetting, which involved arranging individual letters into lines of text using a composing stick. The type would then be placed into a frame known as a chase, which would hold all the type in place for printing.


Once the type was set, ink would be applied to the type using a roller. The ink had to be applied evenly to ensure that each letter would print clearly.


The final step was printing, which involved pressing the paper onto the inked type using a press. The pressure would transfer the ink from the type onto the paper, creating a printed page.


Printing has come a long way since its early beginnings in ancient times. From woodblock printing to moveable type and finally Gutenberg’s printing press, it has evolved into a highly efficient and sophisticated process. Today, we take for granted the ease with which we can print documents or books, but it is important to remember the hard work and skill that went into printing in ancient times.