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By- Angela Padrón

Storytelling has been a part of the human experience for centuries. It’s in our nature to communicate with others, in both fictional and non-fictional ways. The way stories have been told has changed dramatically over time, however.

Early humans used visuals to tell stories about survival and life. Early cave paintings have been found carved or drawn into stone, mud, or clay. This was the method by which caveman communicated with one another. In ancient Egypt, over 5,000 years ago, people used hieroglyphics, a form of writing that used pictographic characters as symbols and sounds. Scientists and researchers believe hieroglyphics were a way to document religious ceremonies and practices, as well as a way to leave messages in tombs and temples for future generations.

As humans developed oral language, stories were passed down from generation to generation. Depending on the culture, traditions, folk tales, myths, and history lessons were told through song, chant, and epic poetry. Today, oral storytelling is still practiced any time people get together and socialize.

As alphabets and written language developed, stories were set down in written, printed, and typed formats. The first written stories were manually transcribed on paper, stone, or clay. Scientists have found written communication dating back to Ancient Greece in 770 to 750 B.C. Only an educated population was able to read and write stories, however, so not everyone could document what was told. Instead, plays were developed to provide a visual and oral account of a story.

Early on, the Chinese developed wood block printing, which allowed them to create multiple copies of the same written work. When mass printing was developed, news and information became more readily available to everyone.

Today, more advanced technologies allow stories to be told and shared more rapidly and effectively than ever. Modern inventions include the printing press, which prints stories in books and magazines, and the camera, which can tell stories through the photographs it takes. Video cameras and motion pictures can portray a story in a visual format, while the Internet provides a platform for spoken stories that are recorded in videos and shared or written in blogs. Finally, social media allows people to share stories and pictures in posts at the click of a button or swipe of a finger. 

As technology progresses, who knows what new platforms will be available to relay a story in the future? One thing is for sure, however: intrinsically, people are storytellers. Whether they tell their tales through visual, oral, or written format, one way or another, the stories will be told!

You may also like: Seven Ways to Integrate Art in the Classroom


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