When was reading invented: Unraveling the Mystery

Photo of author

By Chandler Chandler

When was reading invented: Unraveling the Mystery

Chandler Chandler

When was reading invented:

Reading, that magical act of symbols on a page, has been an important part of human existence for millennia. It is a journey that transcends time, culture, and language, connecting us to the past, present, and future. So, let us talk more about on when was reading invented, literary and explore the facts of the history of reading.

When was reading invented

Here are going to give you each and every proof related to the time when was reading invented and how we came to know this:

Ancient Mesopotamia

In the 4th Millennium BCE, an unknown person etched squiggles onto clay tablets as urban centres sprouted in Mesopotamia. These seemingly innocuous marks represented a goat, an ox, and something more profound: the birth of writing. Alongside writing, its inseparable twin, the art of reading, came out.

First of all, writing served practical purposes, keeping records of transactions across vast distances. Picture-like signs depicted lists of goods, but it was the cuneiform script that truly transformed communication. Each syllable had its unique sign, and to be a scribe in ancient Mesopotamia was an huge achievement.

Kings who could read claimed it in inscriptions, and the feet of birds left patterns similar to cuneiform characters believed to be messages from the gods waiting to be deciphered.

Enheduanna: The First Author of a book

Around 2300 BCE, a woman named Enheduanna, an Akkadian princess and High Priestess, composed temple hymns. She inscribed her works on clay tablets, signing her name, an early acknowledgement of the absent “dear reader.” Enheduanna’s legacy endures as the first known author in history.


Fast-forward to the 3rd century BCE, and we encounter the legendary Library of Alexandria. Nestled in Egypt, this wisdom housed countless scrolls, texts, and treatises. Scholars, poets, and thinkers flocked to its hallowed halls, seeking enlightenment. The library symbolized the power of reading a gateway to knowledge and understanding.

Silent Reading

During the Middle Ages, monasteries became sanctuaries for learning. Monks meticulously copied manuscripts, preserving ancient texts. However, something transformative occurred the advent of silent reading. Previously, reading aloud was the norm, but now, individuals could absorb words silently, their minds weaving narratives beyond the physical page.

Printing Press

In the 15th century, Johannes Gutenberg’s invention, the printing press, ushered in a seismic shift. Books multiplied, literacy spread, and reading became accessible. The world witnessed the birth of classics, scientific treatises, and revolutionary ideas. The printed word transcended borders, sparking revolutions and shaping civilizations.

Digital Age

Moving forward to today, the digital age. Pixels replace paper, and e-books coexist with dog-eared novels. We swipe screens, devour audiobooks, and explore virtual libraries. However, the essence remains unchanged: the magic of reading, the communion of minds across centuries.

An Ancient Echo

The oldest surviving work of literature, the Epic of Gilgamesh, dates back to ancient Mesopotamia around 2100 BCE. Its verses echo through time, reminding us that reading is not merely decoding symbols, it is wearing the human experience.


As the Renaissance dawned, so did a renewed passion for knowledge. Scholars, artists, and thinkers voraciously consumed texts, igniting intellectual fires across Europe. The invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in the 15th century was akin to a cosmic explosion. Suddenly, books were no longer the privilege of the elite; they became the currency of enlightenment. 

The Gutenberg Bible, printed around 1455, stands as a testament to this transformative era, literacy and cultural exchange. Meanwhile, the Age of Exploration unfolded. Voyagers sailed uncharted waters, their ships laden not only with spices and silks but also with manuscripts. The written word bridged continents, connecting civilizations. 

The Codex Mendoza, a 16th-century Aztec manuscript, chronicled the vibrant tapestry of pre-Columbian Mexico. It whispered secrets of empires, rituals, and dreams across time and space.


In the 18th century, the Enlightenment swept across Europe. Thinkers like Voltaire, Rousseau, and Diderot wielded pens as weapons against ignorance. Their treatises, essays, and encyclopedias championed reason, liberty, and progress. 

The Encyclop edie, edited by Diderot and d’Alembert, the collective wisdom of humanity, knowledge that transcended borders.

The Rise of Novels

The 19th century, we have witnessed the rise of the novel. Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Leo Tolstoy wove intricate narratives that mirrored society’s complexities. Readers made themselves involved in fictional worlds, empathizing with characters, laughing, weeping, and evolving alongside them. The novel became a mirror reflecting our shared humanity.

Libraries and Public Education

Libraries flourished, evolving into havens for truth-seekers. Andrew Carnegie, the steel magnate turned philanthropist, generously supported countless libraries across the globe. These centers of knowledge democratized book access, empowering successive generations. public education systems sprang up, nurturing minds. Reading transformed from a benefit into an inherent right.


Enter the 21st century, the age of e-books, Kindles, and audiobooks. Pixels dance across screens, and libraries fit in our pockets. We swipe, tap, and scroll, exploring real and imagined realms. 

However, amidst the digital cacophony, the pleasure of turning a physical page endures, the scent of ink, the rustle of paper, and the intimacy of a well-worn book.

Some Questions

When was reading invented? 

The history of reading dates back to the invention of writing during the 4th millennium BCE. As societies developed, so did the art of reading. Initially, writing was used for record-keeping and documenting transactions. Over time, it evolved into a powerful form of communication, shaping myth, history, and literature.

Why is reading important? 

Reading connects us across time and space. We feel a sense of continuity and solidarity when we read what others have written. Our reading choices reflect our personalities and experiences. Understanding the history of readers and reading provides insights into society as a whole.

Read More:

Leave a Comment