What Was Used as a Writing Surface in Ancient Times?

In ancient times, writing was an essential aspect of human communication. From cave paintings to hieroglyphs, humans have been leaving their mark on various surfaces for centuries. But what exactly did they use as their writing surface before the invention of paper?

Clay Tablets
One of the earliest forms of writing surfaces was clay tablets. This method was popular in Mesopotamia around 3000 BCE.

The clay was shaped into a tablet and dried in the sun or baked in an oven to harden it. The scribe would then use a stylus to make wedge-shaped impressions on the surface, creating cuneiform script.

Another popular writing surface in ancient times was papyrus. Papyrus is a type of paper made from the pithy stem of the papyrus plant, which grew abundantly along the Nile River in Egypt.

The stems were cut into thin strips and laid out horizontally and vertically in layers. These were then pressed together and dried to form a flat sheet that could be written on with ink.

Animal Skins
Animal skins were also used as writing surfaces in ancient times. Parchment is a type of writing material made from animal skin, usually sheep or goat. The skin was soaked in water to remove all flesh and hair, then stretched on a frame and scraped with a knife until it was smooth enough for writing.

Bamboo Slips
In China, bamboo slips were commonly used as a writing material during the Warring States period (475-221 BCE). Thin strips of bamboo were flattened and tied together with string to form books that could be easily carried around.

Stone Tablets
Stone tablets were often used for important inscriptions or religious texts that needed to last for centuries. The Rosetta Stone is one example of this type of writing surface. It is a slab of black basalt that contains a decree issued at Memphis in 196 BCE by King Ptolemy V in three scripts: Ancient Greek, Demotic script, and hieroglyphs.

In conclusion, ancient people used various writing surfaces to communicate their ideas and thoughts. From clay tablets to stone tablets, each material had its own unique advantages and disadvantages. However, the invention of paper revolutionized the way we write and communicate today.