Writing is the physical manifestation of a spoken language. It is thought that human beings developed language c. 35,000 BCE as evidenced by cave paintings from the period of the Cro-Magnon Man (c. 50,000-30,000 BCE) which appear to express concepts concerning daily life. These images suggest a language because, in some instances, they seem to tell a story (say, of a hunting expedition in which specific events occurred) rather than being simply pictures of animals and people.

More about: Writing


  • c. 3200 BCE
    First instance of written language in Sumerian.
  • c. 2500 BCE
    Beginning of literature in Sumerian.
  • 2285 BCE - 2250 BCE
    Life of Enheduanna, daughter of Sargon of Akkad, and world's first author known by name.
  • c. 2150 BCE - c. 1400 BCE
    The tales of Gilgamesh written which inform The Epic of Gilgamesh
  • c. 2000 BCE - c. 1650 BCE
    Cretan Hieroglyphic script is in use.
  • c. 1900 BCE - c. 1600 BCE
    Composition of The Descent of Inanna.
  • c. 1850 BCE - c. 1450 BCE
    The Linear A script of the Minoan civilization is in use.
  • c. 1640 BCE - c. 1700 BCE
    Written form of the Atrahasis Myth of the Great Flood.
  • 1600 BCE - 1046 BCE
    Writing develops in China during the Shang Dynasty.
  • c. 1600 BCE - 1000 BCE
    Jiaguwen Script develops in China.
  • c. 1600 BCE
    Canaanite alphabet.
  • c. 1500 BCE - c. 500 BCE
    The Vedic Period in India after a greater migration of the Indo-Aryans from Central Asia
  • c. 1500 BCE - 1100 BCE
    The Rig Veda written, mentioning the god Rudra (Shiva) and goddess Tara (among others) for the first time.
  • c. 1500 BCE - c. 1200 BCE
    The Linear B script of the Mycenaean civilization is in use.
  • c. 1400 BCE
    Ugaritic alphabet of 30 letters is invented.
  • 1100 BCE
    Phoenician alphabet.
  • c. 1000 BCE - 700 BCE
    Dazhuan Script develops in China.
  • c. 1000 BCE
    Death of Ahiram (or Ahirom) of Byblos, whose sarcophagus bears the oldest inscription of the Phoenician alphabet.
  • 800 BCE
    Earliest examples of Greek alphabetic script.
  • c. 700 BCE
    Xiaozhuan Script develops in China.
  • c. 647 BCE - c. 629 BCE
    Extensive collection of clay tablets acquired known as Ashurbanipal's Library at Nineveh.
  • c. 500 BCE
    Lishu "Clerky Script" develops in China.
  • 196 BCE
    The Rosetta Stone was made, a stela carrying a priestly decree from the reign of Ptolemy V in three languages: Egyptian hieroglyphs, demotic and Greek script.
  • 23 CE - Aug 79 CE
    Life of Pliny the Elder.
  • c. 350 CE - c. 950 CE
    Estimated use of the Ogham in Ireland and southwestern England.
  • 626 CE - 649 CE
    Woodblock printing process develops under reign of Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty.
  • 1234 CE
    Movable metal type printing is invented in Goryeo, Korea.