Pictograms | 10 Milestones in Human Communication


Pictograms are the earliest form of communication we know but much different from what we consider “writing” today. A pictogram is a pictorial representation for a word or phrase. A good example of it is the Chinese characters or symbols, often called ideograms, used for communication. Chinese pictograms represent ideas or things and don’t have to be spelled out, as they are understood in their entirety by the reader. Our cave-dwelling ancestors used two kinds of pictograms to communicate with each other: petroglyphs and petrographs. Petroglyphs are made by carving images onto a surface with a sharp, pointed instrument, while petrographs are made by painting images onto rocks. Eventually, petroglyphs lent themselves to the creation of cuneiform, a type of writing employed by the Sumerians. Writing was born.

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