With the advent of nations and commerce, manual aids to memory proved
inadequate. Around 3000 BC, well before the ancient Greeks and Romans, Babylonian
merchants began using cuneiform tablets to record their transactions. Cuneiform
symbols were cut into damp clay with a stylus and then baked. These tablets served as
permanent records, and specimens have been unearthed reasonably intact in modern
Figure 1-4. A cuneiform tablet used by Babylonian merchants.
HIEROGLYPHICS ON PAPYRUS SCROLLS
In the same period (circa 3200 BC), the Egyptians developed papyrus, a paper-
like material made from the center layers of the papyrus plant. A sharp-pointed pen,
known as a calmus, was used to make hieroglyphic inscriptions on the papyrus. Like
the cuneiform tablets, papyrus scrolls permitted a more permanent means of record
keeping. Scrolls, found in Egyptian tombs, have provided valuable information on
Figure 1-5. Egyptian hieroglyphics on a papyrus scroll.