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Early humans had no written language.

Written Records

From the earliest times, people needed to keep records. About 5,000 years ago, when ancient people wanted to write something down, they drew a simple picture.

Cuneiform Writing

The Sumerians made wedge-shaped marks in a tablet of soft clay. This was later baked in the sun.


Priests in ancient Egypt drew simple pictures to represent words. They wrote on papyrus, a paper made from flattened reeds that grew on the banks of the Nile river.

(This is my name in hieroglyphics. KIO. A basket, a reed leaf and a quail chick. I also have a real papyrus that my mum bought me when we were in Egypt with my full name - Kiodah - written on it.)


Later on, letters and symbols instead of pictures were used for each different sound in a word. All these different letters made up an alphabet.

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