History of printing press began long before Gutenberg’s time

in Historic artefacts/History/Holy Scriptures & Ancient Texts

Around 5,500 years ago somewhere in the ancient Mesopotamia area, the most advanced culture of the time, the Sumerians, were the first who enlightened mankind with the earliest form of writing. The Cuneiform system of hand pressing a wooden stylus into clay tablets soon developed into other forms, the most sophisticated being the press imprint using small stone cylinders carved with pictographs and texts which enabled mass production of copies.

Some of these clay tablets were left to dry and were used for all kinds of notes; officials writing, shopping lists and such like and they could always be re-used just by soaking them in water.  The most important documents were of a mostly religious or political nature, these were put into hot kilns to be hardened in fire which gave them durability to stand the test of time. This type of mass production was embraced by different cultures around the World and later on became further developed. For example in 200 BC the Chinese monks used a similar, but improved method, with ink and paper. This was known as block printing where sheets of paper are pressed on wooden blocks coated with ink.
In the 15th century German goldsmith Johannes Gutenberg probably never imagined how his invention of a press printing device would bring a spark of enlightenment to Humanity. Before the printing press invention, all the official documents, translations and manuscripts were handwritten down by educated priests and this often took them a couple of years just to complete one book. Yet all these books were like pieces of art, available only to Kings and Queens or wealthy Europeans. The common people of the Middle Ages were mostly poor, uneducated and unable to afford such luxurious books. Soon after, Gutenberg published 180 copies of the Latin Bible, all of which sold out. The printing press rapidly spread throughout Europe bringing the Word of God, the thoughts of the people and eventually the newspapers to the masses.

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Jenny Lewis is an Arts Council-funded poet, playwright, children’s author, translator and
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