Ancient Egyptians Created the First Stickers, That Helped Evolve the Modern Print Industry

Ancient Egyptian’s Created the First ‘Stickers’, That Helped Evolve the Modern Print Industry...

When King Tutankhamun’s tomb was first excavated, the world had suddenly begun to learn more from the archaeological discovery and examination of all the treasures found within this tomb and others like it.

The Egyptians were one of the most innovative ancient civilisations of their time, evidenced within the creations, tools and methods found, that we have adapted and modernised through history. From dying clothing using beets to crushing charcoal and combining it with galena to create a black ointment known as ‘kohl’ to use as eyeliner, it would appear that our evolution stems from many idea’s tools and workings invented from this time period in human history.

History and invention:

Historians have traced the earliest known ‘sticker’ to a time period of 3000 to 300 BC. These have been traced back to the ancient Egyptians, who used ‘stickers’ to advertise and price products, as well as to provide information about their products on market stalls and numerous walls. Artefacts found during archaeological excavations have evidenced this find, noting the ‘stickers’ found to be one of the first adhesive types created. In which the Egyptians used papyrus and other forms of paper to write on before sticking the labels to products with some type of glue or paste. It is hypothesised that this may be the same adhesive form they used to wrap mummies with, although historians are unsure on the exact concoction form.

Another great invention the ancient Egyptians had created was the wine label. Although we still have trouble decoding the information on modern day wine labels, the ancient Egyptians labelling system was incredibly specific. Although they had not originated wine, they had become the centre of the wine trade dominating from 1550 to 1070 BC. They had introduced the amphorae as a standardisation to create easy and safe transportation of the wine. However, they first noticed the problem that they could not tell which wine was in which amphorae, thus the labelling system began. This system included the information of; where the wine was made, who made the wine, the year it was made and the style of wine it was. A development that has been expanded upon in modern day but still includes this information. This information was imprinted on the clay amphorae as they dried and was a popular and highly sought product among kings and high priests who collected huge numbers of amphora and were often brought with them into the afterlife.

The discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb found numerous treasures within that archaeologist have examined and dated, placing the young king’s death at 1352 BCE. Among these treasures, 26 amphorae jars were found with examples of these labels. One such example reads “Year Four. Wine of very good quality of the House-of-Aton of the Western River. Chief vintner Khay.” Just like modern day, a vintage wine was held highly and favoured by ancient Egyptians. Thus, the discovery of these amphorae buried with the king were year specific (Fit for a monarch) all of the same type possibly his favoured libation. Thus, evidencing that ancient Egyptians were paying attention to good and bad years of wine.

Evolution begins:

Quite a few time periods later, in early 1700 CEPierre Perignon a French monk had created the first wine label on record with string and parchment paper attached to a bottle of wine. Thus, the modern evolution of these labels began.

Stickers first started to evolve within the 1700’s and the introduction of tax stamps and lithography. Lithography was a printing process created by Alois Senefelder in 1798, allowing for the mass production of labels. As this evolved quickly, it was most favoured for wine labels and wineries began to want rectangular labels as they could fit more information on it including design illustration. As the industries evolved, so did the styles of design visible in the early 1800’s the use of gold silver and bronze metals in print design. This continued until the late 19th century when new methods were created and improved as the old methods had become unsustainable and expensive. These methods were devised and varied within France, Italy, Germany, Spain and Portugal.

However, within the UK evolution began around 1839 was when adhesive paper was first invented for the postage stamp by Sir Rowland Hill. These were decorated to appear more attractive and stuck with a dry adhesive formula, users were cautioned when wetting the back of the label not to remove the cement. They were the first royal mail stamp of their kind. Although, it is said that the first self-adhesive labels were invented by Ray Stanton Avery in the U.S, around 1935 a debate many still argue today as to who made the discovery first, although both method types are vastly differentiated.

These have since been adopted and evolved, through the ages until modern day when digitalisation has become a cost-effective method, favoured in producing pricing labels and stickers that comply with law and regulation. Though, we are now learning our efforts through time has been a costly impact to the environment and modern methods are promoting the use of sustainable and eco-friendly sticker and label types, reducing the use of plastic. We are forever researching and building new innovations derived from these ancient methods, it would appear we have much to learn and gain from these time periods for future growth.

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