Article

Information Technologies: Writing, Book Production, and the Role of Literacy

Willy Clarysse and Katelijn Vandorpe

in The Oxford Handbook of Engineering and Technology in the Classical World

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780199734856
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199734856.013.0029

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Information Technologies: Writing, Book Production, and the Role of Literacy

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The invention of writing was a huge step in the development of civilization. Writing provided an artificial memory that could be consulted at any time; seeing replaced hearing as a means of communication and as the means of storing communication. The long-term evolution of writing tended toward an ever closer adaptation of script to sound. The diversity of local alphabets in the archaic and classical periods suggests that writing spread quickly, before all the problems of adaptation to Greek had been confronted. The variety of writing materials in antiquity may be illustrated by the last dispositions of Augustus. The choice of writing materials was dictated by their availability and by the purpose they were meant to serve. A discussion on book production and book trade is then provided. Orality and literacy are indeed not opposites, but orality continued to hold a strong position throughout antiquity.

Keywords: writing; book production; book trade; orality; literacy

Article.  11114 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Greek and Roman Archaeology ; Historical Archaeology

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