The Mind Blowing Science Behind Evolution of the Ability of Reading and Writing in Humans

person holding string lights on opened book

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Everybody loves to hear stories. Storytelling have for so long, been an integral part of human life. Are you someone who loves to read? Do you love the smell of books—old and new alike? Have you noticed how the smell of books brings flashes of old memories to your mind? 

Memories from your childhood, school re-openings, the smell of brown paper with which you wrapped your books, and so on. You may even remember paragraphs, sentences, and characters from your favorite books, aroused by the smell of books.

When and why did humans start writing and reading?
How have humans benefited from storytelling, reading, and writing?
Which was the first book ever written?

Why Do We Read and Write?

Out of all the life forms on the planet, we human beings are the only ones gifted with the talent to formulate and craft words into gems of knowledge, wisdom and information, to be passed on to his descendants. No other species is known to have possessed full-blown language capacity as well as reasoning and planning abilities.

The fact that the number system came into existence before the alphabet is evidence of man starting to develop writing systems for counting and name things. Later on, he came to realize that writing and reading have a function that is immortal in its very essence.

Beyond keeping records of trades and archiving history, man found writing as a means to express his deepest thoughts and tell stories that he conceived in his heart. That was how great works of literature and poetry started taking the written form, by humans who started crafting words into works of art. 

This ability to read and write makes us blessed to have a ready source available to immerse ourselves when in doubt and quench our thirst for knowledge and wisdom. A book is like a seed that we sow in our hearts, the seeds which we procure from the minds of the writers whom we read. The greatest writers of all time have shared their valuable insights for us to read and ponder upon.

Everyone who reads a book tries to identify themselves in it and we all end a book with a different seed planted in our hearts. Every one of us will have their individual opinions and outlook about a particular book and the idea that it shares, depending on the lives we are going through.

Reading enables us to see the world through a thousand different eyes, the eyes of the writers. As Goethe said, “a man sees in the world what he carries in his heart.” Reading is evidence of ourselves accepting that our eyes are not enough to see the world and our lives are not enough to fully experience everything that is there to be experienced in the world.

Readers are true to themselves in the belief that they would learn things and experience life as others did, which would never have been possible if not for books.

The Evolution of Writing

The modern form of human beings evolved around 2, 00,000 years ago, but it was not until 5000 years ago, in 3000 BC that he started to develop writing as we know it today. Many years before that, men started telling stories, as spoken language is believed to have evolved tens of thousands of years before man started writing.

Man’s desire to tell stories can be traced back to the times when he started painting the caves that he lived in. I was wondering, who would have been the first man who felt that speech was not enough for him to convey clearly and precisely, what was in his heart.

The oldest known cave paintings by Homo sapiens are more than 44, 000 years old. There are evidences of cave art produced by Neanderthals 64000 years ago. Millenniums later, in 1454, a German goldsmith named Johannes Gutenberg, introduced printing to the world. 

By then man had already started writing books and evolved his skill of writing from cave art to parchments and scrolls and paper.Do you know which was the first book ever written? ‘The Epic of Gilgamesh’ written in 1800 BC is regarded as the earliest surviving great work of literature.

Where Have Humanity Reached So Far in the Journey With Books?

The world today has reached the era of E-books. We even have audiobooks so that we don’t even have to read anymore. We don't even have to write to express how we feel, we can type out our messages and supplement them with emojis and emoticons to express how we feel these days. 

In that regard, we are similar to our ancestors, the upper Paleolithic man (Old Stone Age), in using signs and symbols to convey our messages.Nevertheless, the importance of books in our lives cannot be undermined. Look around and see where mankind has reached ever since they started writing and reading.

Imagine what we would have achieved if men started writing and storing information and knowledge a 1000 years earlier than he actually did?
All that knowledge which would otherwise have not been passed on to generations to come. 

The same knowledge, which paved the paths for inventions and discoveries that changed the world. Ideas and philosophies that influenced great minds. Literature and poetry that inspired and captured many hearts.
Why wait? Grab a book and start reading today!

Written by - Rahul Prem

Edited by - Nidhi Verma

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