May is “Get Caught Reading Month,” so in light of the importance and intrigue of the written word, I thought I would go back to where it all began. The earliest form of writing changed communication forever, lending a permanency oral communication couldn’t offer. Since the inhabitants of Mesopotamia developed cuneiform writing around 3300 to 2990 B.C.E., humans have had the ability to record stories that have been passed down for millennia.
The earliest known piece of literature, the narrative poem The Epic of Gilgamesh, was found in cuneiform, and was written by multiple authors beginning around 2100 B.C.E. It took around a thousand years for the final story to be completed, and the wedge shapes on clay tablets laid a foundation for storytelling that would eliminate the boundaries of communication. Later, the Phoenicians developed the signs for consonants that have been modified over time tot he alphabet we see today. It’s hard to imagine a world without written text, and this reminds us to never take for granted our ability to read, learn, and grow.
This clay tablet, which is 2,600 years old, was found in 2015 and adds 20 lines to The Epic of Gilgamesh.