The cuneiform script is the earliest known form of written expression. Created by the Sumerians from ca. 3000 BC, cuneiform writing began as a system of pictographs. Over time, the pictorial representations became simplified and more abstract.
Cuneiforms were written on clay tablets, on which symbols were drawn with a blunt reed for a stylus. The impressions left by the stylus were wedge shaped, thus giving rise to the name cuneiform ("wedge shaped").
Egyptian writing (hieroglyphs) on Papyrus, a thick paper-like material produced from a wetland sedge that was once abundant in the Nile Delta of Egypt.
Classical antiquity (also the classical era or classical period) is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. The Colosseum in Rome (ca. 80 AD).
Roman square capitals, also called inscriptional capitals, elegant capitals and quadrata, are an ancient Roman form of writing, and the basis for modern capital letters.
Roman capitals on the Arch of Titus, circa 81, an example of inscriptional lettering which would have been infilled with bronze. Note the holes for the "tangs" of the cast bronze letters.
The type family Trajan by Carol Twombly 1989. Notable examples of square capitals used for inscriptions are found on the Pantheon, Trajan's Column, and the Arch of Titus, all in Rome. Square capitals are characterized by sharp, straight lines, supple curves, thick and thin strokes, angled stressing and incised serifs.
The extent of the Roman Empire under Trajan, AD 117. Pax Romana, Latin for "the Roman peace", was the long period of relative peace and minimal expansion by military force experienced by the Roman Empire between 27 BC and AD 180.
By the 400s the influence of the Roman empire and culture was eliminated in much of western Europe leading to a long period of economic, scientific and cultural deprivation known as the "Dark Ages."
The decline of the Roman Empire is one of the events which traditionally mark the end of Antiquity and the start of the European Middle Ages. Throughout the fifth century, its territories in western Europe and northwestern Africa, including Italy, fell to various invading or indigenous peoples.
The Medieval Period dates from the middle 400s AD (the sackings of Rome by the Visigoths) to the middle 1400s. Medieval Society was organized in a feudal tree or pyramid system. It was based on the level of command each man had. The King was the highest and most important in command. The King gave fiefs or grants of land to his noblemen, they were called Barons and Bishops. In return for the land each noble promised to supply the King with soldiers in time for war. The idea of loyalty and service was important in feudal society.
No iPhones, no myspace, no CS3... no electric lights, running water, or toilet paper! The vast majority of people in Medieval Europe lived at subsistence levels. Life was hard, very hard.
The book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript that is a masterwork of Western calligraphy (ca. 880). Uncial lettering is a majuscule script (capital letters) commonly used from the 3rd to 8th centuries AD by Latin and Greek scribes.
In an illuminated manuscript the text is supplemented by the addition of decoration, such as decorated initials, borders and miniature illustrations.
Sixth-to ninth centuries: Insular majuscules, a formal style with exaggerated serifs, was developed by Irish monks from the half-uncials.
The Carolingian Renaissance was a period of intellectual and cultural revival occurring in the late eighth and ninth centuries, with the peak of the activities occurring during the of Charlemagne. A portrait of Charlemagne by Albrecht Dürer that was painted several centuries after Charlemagne's death.
In the 8th and 9th centuries, Charlemagne expanded the Frankish kingdoms into a Frankish Empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. Through his foreign conquests and internal reforms, Charlemagne helped define both Western Europe and the Middle Ages.
The period of Charlemagne's reign saw the development of Medieval Latin and Carolingian minuscule, providing a common language and writing style that allowed for communication across most of Europe.
700s to 1100s: Caroline minuscules became the standard throughout Europe after Charlemagne instituted a uniform writing style.
Late 700s and 800s: Carolingian minuscule,
Eleventh-twelfth centuries: Early Gothic lettering, a transitional style between Caroline miniscules and Textura, has an increased vertical emphasis.
Notre Dame Cathedral (Paris, 1163-1250) is one of the first Gothic cathedrals. Its construction spanned the Gothic period. Gothic art was a Medieval art movement that lasted about 200 years. It began in France in the mid-12th century.
Gothic depiction of the adoration of the Magi from Strasbourg Cathedral (France), constructed 1015-1439. Gothic art told a narrative story through pictures, both Christian and secular.
The Black Death (Bubonic plague) was one of the most deadly pandemics in human history. During the 1300s it is estimated to have killed 30% to 60% of Medieval Europe's population.
The first known movable type system for printing was created in China around 1040 AD by Bi Sheng (990–1051). Bi Sheng's type was made of baked clay.
Transition from wood type to metal type occurred ca. 1230 AD during the Goryeo Dynasty of Korea.
The Gothic lettering style. Also known as old English, or Textura, and or fraktur, depending on its origin in Europe. 13th through 15th centuries.
Johannes Gutenberg and his Bible, (also known as the 42-line Bible). printed by Johannes Gutenberg, in Mainz, Germany in the middle 1400s.
Johannes Gutenberg of Mainz is acknowledged as the first to invent a metal movable type printing system in Europe. Gutenberg was a goldsmith familiar with techniques of cutting punches for making coins from moulds.
Attributed to Gutenberg are the design of metal movable type, the invention of a process for making such type in quantity (mass production), the use of oil-based ink, and the use of a wooden printing press similar to the screw olive and wine presses of the period. His truly epochal invention was the combination of these elements into a practical system.
Gutenberg developed hardware and techniques for casting letters from matrices using a device called the hand mould. The hand mould was the first practical means of making cheap copies of letterpunches in the vast quantities needed to print complete books, making the movable type printing process a viable enterprise. In this slide, notice that metal type is set backwards, in order to make a positive impression on the printed page.
Gutenberg's bible with an illuminated illustration.
Blackletter, also known as Gothic script or Gothic minuscule, was a script used throughout Western Europe from approximately 1150 to 1500. It continued to be used for the German language until the twentieth century. Fraktur is a notable script of this type, and sometimes the entire group of faces is known as Fraktur.
Gutenberg's movable type printing system spread rapidly across Europe, from the single Mainz press in 1457 to 110 presses by 1480, of which 50 were in Italy.
Type cases are wooden trays divided into sections to hold the various letters of a typeface.
Venice quickly became the center of typographic and printing activity. Significant were the contributions of Nicolas Jenson, Francesco Griffo, Aldus Manutius, and other printers of late 15th-century Europe.
Within fifty or sixty years of the invention of the printing press, the entire classical canon had been reprinted and widely promulgated throughout Europe. Now that more people had access to knowledge both new and old, more people could discuss these works. This helped to usher in the European Renaissance.
(Madonna and Child by Lippi, 1440-45). The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th through the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of western Europe. It encompassed a revival of learning based on classical sources, the development of linear perspective in painting, and educational reform.
The renaissance in Europe. The Florence Cathedral. Constructed from 13th-15th century. The dome built By Filippo Brunelleschi, 1420-36. Renaissance thinkers sought out learning from ancient texts, typically written in Latin or ancient Greek. Scholars scoured Europe's monastic libraries, searching for works of antiquity which had fallen into obscurity. In such texts they found a desire to improve and perfect their worldly knowledge; an entirely different sentiment to the transcendental spirituality stressed by medieval Christianity. They did not reject Christianity; quite the contrary, many of the Renaissance's greatest works were devoted to it, and the Church patronized many works of Renaissance art. However, a subtle shift took place in the way that intellectuals approached religion that was reflected in many other areas of cultural life.