Book Before Printing, The: Ancient, Medieval and Oriental : David Diringer :IT is significant that man's intellectual progress and, particularly, the recording of his achievements—history in fact—are very late developments in his story as a whole. The modern anthropologist regards the human race as having had probably a million years' existence on this earth. Of this million years, only a small fraction —the last five thousand years or so—are recorded in any contemporary form. Indeed, the earliest known books or their equivalents are the inscribed clay tablets of Mesopotamia and the papyrus rolls of ancient Egypt, both of which, in their primitive origins, are reputed to date at least from the early third millennium B. If one goes further back, however, one might by a stretch of imagination regard as very nebulous beginnings of the book the Old Stone Age cave paintings—such as we find at Altamira or Lascaux—and other prehistoric or more recent picture-writings, as well as the oral tradition, aided by gesture and song, of prehistoric or other primitive peoples.
The Book Before Printing: Ancient, Medieval and Oriental
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