This timeline represents some of the known, or at least accepted, events in journalism including language, writing, and printing. It’s purpose is to bring some sense of perspective to the known evolution of humans documenting their existence on Earth. This timeline is intended to help me personally with the big picture. I’ll update it as I learn new things and as new things are discovered. I hope you enjoy it and that it helps you too!
This timeline of journalism starts with a few notable events in human history. The purpose of these events is to give one a sense of how long humans have been speaking and sharing ideas. The documenting of our existence using writing systems started in prehistory. For this timeline I will use the terms proto-writing, primitive writing, and complex writing to categorize writing systems. The use of simple identifying symbols is known as proto-writing. Proto-writing evolved into primitive writing capable of documenting simple ideas. Primitive writing expanded and at the point they could document complex ideas they became a complex writing system. Perhaps not equal to modern writing systems, but in the ballpark.
To open our minds, let’s speculate a bit. Although the archeological record is slim, one can speculate that early proto-writing, the use of simple symbols, started as soon as our ancestors could talk, circa 700,000 BCE. We can also speculate that the use of symbols evolved frequently into primitive writing systems throughout prehistory.
Although speculative, I personally have no doubt that proto-writing existed long before the archeological record indicates. I also have no doubt that it evolved into primitive writing many thousands of times. If I were to guess, I would guess proto-writing and primitive writing systems started within a few generations of the first stable communities sometime between 700,000 to 150,000 BCE. I can imagine simpler complex writing systems capable of documenting complex ideas existing at various times from perhaps 500,000 BCE through to 3500 BCE with the earliest known complex writing system of cuneiform.
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