When was the First Book Written?

It took man many thousands of years to reach the stage where he could produce anything that even remotely resembles a book as we know it. So when we consider the first “book”, we have to think of something quite different. in fact, the earliest, books we know about were not really books in the modern sense of the word.

Several thousands years ago, the Babylonians and Assyrians made tablets of clay. On these tablets they had inscribed records and writing which they wished to preserve. With a sharp-pointed tools, they cut wedge-shaped, or “cuneiform”, characteristic while the clay was still wet.

To make the records more permanent, the clay tablets were placed in an oven and baked. Sometimes the record was a long one and occupied many clay tablets. Such a series of tablets, or “pages’’, might roughly be called a book.


The ancient Egyptians came a step closer to the modern idea of a book. They made a kind of crude paper from a reed called “papyrus”. Flat sheets were made by hand, and these pale yellow sheets were pasted together into long strips, which were wound around cylindrical rollers of bone or wood.

Using sooty water as ink, the Egyptians wrote down poetry, stories, and records of all kinds in hieroglyphics, or picture writing. Since the rolls were not convenient to handle, the writing was sometimes done on separate sheets. Other ancient peoples, including the Greeks and Romans, made books which were wound around rollers. 

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