Around 3200 B.C., the Egyptians began writing with ink, which was created by burning wood or oil and mixing the resultant mixture with water. According to Brooklyn Museum conservator Rachel Danzing, scribes often employed black, carbon-based ink for the body of text and red ink for headers and other crucial terms in the text.
Writing materials during this time were very limited. The ink could be mixed by hand but more commonly it was done using a rod called a reed, which was beaten against a flat surface called a plate. The sound of the reed being struck was recorded via percussion instrument, such as a drum or tambourine.
The written word at this time was used primarily for records of events that needed to be preserved for future reference; letters were sent to friends and family to let them know what had happened during an individual's absence; and bills were paid. It wasn't until about 600 B.C. that the Egyptian people started using the written word as a means of communication. This new development was made possible by the invention of paper.
People all over the world have been using ink and paper to communicate since then. And like many other technologies, these two elements had their beginnings long before they were put together. In Europe, China, and India, examples of written language can be found as early as 3000 B.C., while in Egypt ink and paper come into use much later, around 300 B.u. C.
What were the ancient Egyptians' writing instruments? Egyptian writing was done on quality paper using a pen and ink (papyrus). Egyptian "pens" were thin, pointed reeds that were dipped in ink and used to write with. Plants were crushed and combined with water to make the ink and paint. The resulting black liquid was easy to write with and lasted a long time.
Who were the first writers in ancient Egypt? The first written records in ancient Egypt are the names of the pharaohs on the walls of their tombs. These names were chiseled into the stone by priests after the pharaohs died. They used an instrument called a chisel to carve their names into the wall.
After the death of King Tutankhamen in 1324 B.C., his tomb was opened up again. The treasures inside included many beautiful objects that still exist today. One item that wasn't supposed to be there! It was this fact that sparked the interest of English archaeologist Howard Carter. In 1922, while excavating the tomb, he found a piece of parchment with an inscription on it. This discovery led Carter to find more ancient writings hidden under the floorboards of the king's chamber. He also found jewelry, clothes, and other items belonging to King Tut.
Carter learned how to read and write ancient Egyptian from scholars who studied the artifacts in his lab. He wrote about his discoveries in journals and at scientific conferences.
Around 3,200 BCE, writing appeared in the Sumerian area of Mesopotamia, and it was made by making imprints in clay or cutting onto other surfaces. The emergence of writing with ink occurred around 2,500 BCE, roughly at the same time in Egypt and China. Writing with ink is much more durable than writing in clay or stone and thus has survived longer.
Ink was probably first used by hunters who scratched their marks on animal skins to identify friends and food sources. It may have been later developed for use in religious ceremonies since many ancient drawings show that people were experimenting with how symbols looked when they were written with ink rather than charcoal.
The first evidence of ink comes from studies of dirt found under the nails of mummies. The color of this dirt indicates which part of the world early writers lived in. Black dirt shows that the writer came from Africa while red dirt shows that the writer came from Asia or Europe. Blue dirt means that the writer came from America or Australia.
In addition to identifying where people came from, dirt under the fingernails also tells us about what they wrote. A deep scratch pattern that covers most of the nail bed indicates that the person used a tool called a "graver" to write. Smaller scratches or dots that are closer together indicate that the person used a brush instead. The difference between gravers and brushes affects how their writings look.