Importance of storytelling in history – An evolution of visual storytelling

It all started long, long time ago, when our ancestors had the need to express themselves and narrate their stories on the walls of the cave. Wild animals and various figures were drawn, their fingerprints and palms were pressed into walls. It was the beginning of a storytelling with infinite possibilities and great potential for sharing stories with many future generations.

Cave of Pettakere

Cave of Pettakere, Bantimurung district (kecamatan), South Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Hand stencils estimated between 35,000-40,000 BP

Art as a universal language

Thousands of years later, we evolved from painting rocks to carving and cutting. There was a time of research through different styles and tools. Art has become a universal language that we will be aware of once we discover different languages around the world and came to conclusion that people from other speaking areas think and talk about the same topics as we do. Importance of storytelling in history with the communication based on images, forms and art from the past and her’s extraordinary strength leads us to the birth of the modern alphabet. Cuneiform script (one of the earliest systems of writing, was invented by the Sumerians )  and Egyptian hieroglyphs (they were the formal writing system used in Ancient Egypt).





Trilingual cuneiform inscription of Xerxes at Van Fortress in Turkey, written in Old PersianAkkadian and Elamite,_Van,_1973.JPG








Hieroglyphs from the Great Hypostyle Hall in Karnak (Seti I, 13th century BC)


Discovering a new way for expressing your creativity

Centuries later with it’s limited resources, wood, stone and leather has become a problem.

Ts’ai Lun in China invented paper. That was a huge achievement and began to be used all over the China. Buddhist priests could now massively make prayers and share them with others. With paper and it’s unlimited and cheaper resources, many books and art can be created, too.

Cai Lun

An 18th-century Qing dynasty print depicting Cai Lun as the patron of paper making


In the Middle Ages, Illuminated Manuscripts was one of the innovations invented at that time in Europe. Handwritten and illustrated book have been decorated with gold and silver and become a new way of telling stories. It was the beginning of a modern storytelling. The limitations of medieval manuscripts will change with the innovation of a movable printing press. It was invented in China (wooden printing presses) but in the world of book making, Gutenberg’s printing press ( ) is more familiar and more popular.


Iluminated manuscript

In the strictest definition of illuminated manuscript, only manuscripts with gold or silver, like this miniature of Christ in Majesty from the Aberdeen Bestiary (folio 4v), would be considered illuminated.


Hundreds of years later, with the help of Robert Barker, “interactive experience” was born. At that time inside the buildings special designed for such an art, panorama with its sweeping pictures painted on the walls was a new form of painting and a new way of storytelling. They were constructed in a form of a dome.


Descriptive drawing in the souvenir guide to the “Panorama of Paris“,

1815. Barker’s Panorama, Altick, p.175


Another way of art and storytelling is lithography. It was invented in 1796 by Alois Senefelder. At that time that was a cheap method of publishing theatrical works.


A bright future of storytelling through photography, cinema and digital world

In 1825 many of the firms that adopted the lithographic process were founded for the purpose of making various commercial work and for distributing and spreading popular topics of that time to a wide audience.

Later, in 1826 Joseph Nicéphore Niépce produces the worlds first photograph. It was a fast-paced revolution in the world of photos that will later thrive from film over the digital world to today’s android or iPhone camera.


first photograph

View from the Window at Le Gras, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce,_Joseph_Nic%C3%A9phore_Ni%C3%A9pce,_uncompressed_UMN_source.png

1861 James Clerk Maxwell was the first person to produce a color photograph. Image was temporary but the set of three “color separations” is the first durable color photograph.

Pioneers of their time, Lumière brothers in 1895 develop the first practical photographic color process and later because of them color photography has become commercially available. They also created the Cinematographe. In those years Wiliam Dickson created Kinetograph with help from Thomas Edison and visual storytelling got its first movement.


Cinématographe Lumière at the Institut Lumière, France


1938 Philo Taylor Farnsworth unveiled a prototype of the first electric television, the first fully functional all-electronic image pickup device.

first television

Philo Taylor Farnsworth


1951 the ERA1101 (later renamed UNIVAC 1101) was the first computer sold commercially. It’s first customer was the US Navy.




Plenty opportunities to express our creativity

An evolution of visual storytelling was very long process but with time and people’s strong will and their determination to create something new, inspirational and amazing, to tell their own stories and thoughts through various media and tools all around the world leads us in present time when we have plenty opportunities to express our creativity and to narrate a lot of stories for future generations yet to come.



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