|Ancient Egyptian stela 1600 BC c British Library Board|
One of the first objects you see in this new exhibition at the British Library is a small limestone stele on which, 3,600 years ago, a scribe carved a hymn to the Egyptian god of the underworld, Osiris. It’s the Library’s oldest treasure, written in hieroglyphics, and although the hymn was known, this version is especially precious as it contains passages not recorded elsewhere. Today, just by tapping these words into a computer, I am following in the scribe’s footsteps, continuing a tradition that began some 5,000 years ago, in several different locations around the world. Mesopotamia, Egypt, China and the Americas all independently developed their own writing systems. These revolutionised society and are one of humankind’s greatest achievements. This limestone monument, more than two metres high, is covered in Maya hieroglyphs from Belize, and dates from 647 AD.
|Large Maya limestone stela, Belize, 647AD c British Library Board|
|Caxton's printing of The Canterbury Tales c British Library Board|
|Ravenna papyrus 572 AD, c British Library Board|
|Ancient Egyptian shabti 664 - 332 BC|
|Schoolchild's homework in Greek, 2nd C AD c British Library Board|
Writing: Making Your Mark is at the British Library until August 27, 2019. Admission £14, concessions available, children 11 and under free.