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date: 24 November 2020

books, Greek and Romanlocked

  • H. Maehler

Extract

Books existed in *Egypt long before they came into use in Greece. Systems of writing had been invented and developed for administrative purposes in both Egypt and *Mesopotamia by c.3000 bce. While the Sumerians (see sumerian) and Babylonians used clay tablets for their *cuneiform scripts, the Egyptians used papyrus. A blank sheet of papyrus was found in the tomb of the vizier Hemaka in Saqqara of c.3000 bce. The oldest surviving inscribed papyrus texts are the temple accounts of Abusir of c.2450 bce. A number of fine statues of seated scribes of the same period suggests that this profession was already well established and that writing had been practised for centuries, long enough for the ‘hieratic’ script to develop through the adaptation of hieroglyphs to the use of reed-brush and papyrus. The hieroglyph for ‘book-roll’ is first attested in the first dynasty (c.

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