From the Stone Age to the screw press

From the beginning of our existence, people have always felt the need to communicate with others. It all started by communicating by sounds and gestures, and these sounds got more and more complex as time passed, forming languages. Later, people painted on cave walls representing everyday scenes on their drawings. A really primitive and one of the oldest forms of communicating is the smoke signal. It was used over long-distance. It's thought that the first places where it was used were in the Great Wall, in Ancient China, and also in Ancient Greece. They both used it to avoid being attacked by the enemy by simply signalling from tower to tower in forts. American natives also used this system. The first written texts didn't appear until around the 30 th century BC when the Sumerians (people who lived in southern Mesopotamia) developed cuneiform writing. They were written on clay tablets, using a blunt reed as a stylus. Later in Greece, Egypt and China many other places to write on appeared, such as bones or papyrus. Thanks to the expansion of the new writing methods, the first encyclopedia was written in Syria. This was also permitted by the use of papyrus rolls and early parchments which were made of dried reeds. The documents that were written on those writing surfaces were lighter and portable, not like the clay tablets, which were more difficult to carry. Paper didn't appear until 105 BC, when a worker of the emperor of China “invented” it. However, paper already existed, he only improved it. In 14 BC, Romans established the first postal services, which made it easier to communicate with people who lived far away. But the most huge step in media history was probably the invention of the screw press. Monks had to copy books to get more copies by writing. It meant that only these people and a few nobles could write or read. With the appearance of the screw press, more copies of books were created so it meant that more people could get one and possibly read them.

The screw press was invented by Johann Gutenberg in Germany, in 1448. This new device permitted the utilization of movable type using blocks with the pre-printed text. This method, combined with the use of paper, ink and a printing press allowed for books to be mass-produced, and greatly reduced the price. The first book to be printed in a screw press was a Latin book, and then Gutenberg started printing bibles to sell them all around Europe. This invention took a while to catch on as the royalty, the bourgeoisie, the clergy and other rich people wanted the peasants to continue being illiterate.

Sara González Martínez, 1 A

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