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Ancient Communication Technology: From Hieroglyphics to Scrolls

Overview

Did you know . . . People first used road signs more than 2,000 years ago? Ancient Rome had its own postal service? Egyptian writers used flakes of limestone for scrap paper?

Pens, storytelling, alphabets—communication technology is as old as human society itself. The first humans on Earth used simple communication tools. They painted on cave walls with twigs and animal fur. They carved simple pictures into bones and rocks. Over the centuries, ancient peoples improved the ways ...

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Overview

Did you know . . . People first used road signs more than 2,000 years ago? Ancient Rome had its own postal service? Egyptian writers used flakes of limestone for scrap paper?

Pens, storytelling, alphabets—communication technology is as old as human society itself. The first humans on Earth used simple communication tools. They painted on cave walls with twigs and animal fur. They carved simple pictures into bones and rocks. Over the centuries, ancient peoples improved the ways they communicated. People in the ancient Middle East kept records on clay tablets. The ancient Chinese made paper from wood pulp. The ancient Greeks and ancient Mayans thought of different ways to design books.

So what kinds of tools and techniques did ancient people use? How did writing systems improve over time? And how did ancient communication set the stage for our own modern communication technology? Learn more in Ancient Communications Technology.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761365297
  • Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/1/2011
  • Series: Technology in Ancient Cultures Series
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 96
  • Age range: 12 - 15 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary B. Woods is an elementary school librarian in the Fairfax County (VA) Public School system. She has presented at international librarians' conferences. Mary is the researcher on the Woods team, and Michael is the writer. They have written almost 40 books.
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Table of Contents

Introduction 4

Chapter 1 Communication Basics 8

Chapter 2 The Ancient Middle East 18

Chapter 3 Ancient Egypt 26

Chapter 4 Ancient India 34

Chapter 5 Ancient China 40

Chapter 6 The Ancient Americas 48

Chapter 7 Ancient Greece 58

Chapter 8 Ancient Rome 68

Epilogue After the Ancients 76

Timeline 84

Glossary 86

Source Notes 88

Selected Bibliography 90

Further Reading 91

Websites 93

Index 94

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2011

    This is a fascinating, instructive historical overview of the history of communication ...

    Since the dawn of civilization humans knew they needed to be able to communicate in order to survive. More than likely our earliest ancestors used "grunts, growls, and physical gestures" to communicate their needs. Scientists speculate that "speech developed only about fifty thousand years ago, when people began living in groups." Another very early means of communication can still be seen in primitive paintings such as those in European caves. Similarities in the appearance of artworks spanning centuries left scientists and archaeologists speculating that "families and other small groups passed painting techniques through generations." Undoubtedly these ancient paintings were the foundation of written communication. As people began to form communities, ancient Mesopotamian civilizations found that "The need to keep records led to a new kind of communication technology--writing." Pictographs, or "picture-writing," were the first.

    Cuneiform writing was used on clay tablets, but the process proved to be "difficult and messy." Instead of using pictographs, which were also problematic due to the sheer number of symbols, people developed a syllabary, a "set of written symbols that could be combined to form words." It is uncertain as to when the first alphabet emerged, but a system known as the Proto-Canaanite dates "from between the sixteenth and thirteenth century." These forms of writing not only were used for record keeping, but also began to be used as a method of storytelling and as a keeper of civilization's history. In this book you will also learn about the invention of papyrus, Egyptian hieroglyphic writing, hieratic symbols, the Sanskrit language, the "three stages" of Indian literature, Panini's guide to proper grammar, Ashoka's road-sign system, the Chinese pictographic and logographic writing systems, you'll read about Ts'as Lun's invention of printing methods, Native American language systems, Mesoamerican advanced writing systems, ancient Greek and Roman contributions to written language, and you'll learn many other interesting facets of communication that span across time and the globe.

    This is a fascinating, instructive historical overview of the history of communication. No one book can be all inclusive, but I liked the way this book nicely drew a portrait of communication from the cave painters to modern day forms of communication such as the Apple iPhone. The main focus is not on modern technology, but rather on contributions from the ancient Middle East, Egypt, India, China, the Americas, Greece and Rome. Major contributions and discoveries that enhanced communication are discussed. There are several informative sidebars scattered throughout the text that are quite interesting. Examples of topics include things such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, limestone scrap paper, and totem poles. This book is generously illustrated with photographs, art reproductions, and a worldwide map showing where ancient communication emerged. In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, a timeline, source notes, a selected bibliography, and additional recommended book and website resources to explore. There are free downloadable educational materials on the publisher's website.

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