1–16. Stele bearing the Code of Hammurabi, which was developed between 1792 and 1750 BCE. Above the densely textured law code, King Hammurabi is shown on a mountaintop with the seated sun god Shamash,who orders the king to write down the laws for the people of Babylon.A graphic image of divine authority as the source for the code becomes powerful visual persuasion.
1–17. Detail of the Code of Hammurabi, c. 1800 BCE. Whether pressed into clay or carved into stone as shown here, Mesopotamian scribes achieved a masterful control and delicacy in their writing and arrangement of the strokes in the partitioned space.
1–18. Stamp-cylinder seal (“the Tyszkiewicz seal”), Hittite, 1650–1200 BCE.Combining decorative ornamentation with fi gurative images, this most likely portrays a ritual, possibly with a sacrifi cial offering on the right. It has both an image on the side, for rolling,and an image on the bottom, for stamping. Because it allows images to be reproduced, the cylinder seal can be seen as a recursor to printing.
1–19 and 1–20. Persian stamp seal,c. 500 BCE. Incised into a precious pale blue quartz called chalcedony in a gold mount, this seal, with its symmetrical design of a pair of heraldic beasts locked in combat, probably belonged to a member of the royal family or the high priesthood.

1–21. Ivory tablet of King Zet,First Dynasty. This five-thousandyear-old tablet is perhaps the earliest known example of the Egyptian pictographic writing that evolved into hieroglyphics.
1–22. The Rosetta Stone, c. 197–196 BCE. From top to bottom, the concurrent hieroglyphic, demotic, and Greek inscriptions provided the key to the secrets of ancient Egypt.
1–23. Details of the Rosetta Stone showing the name Ptolemy in hieroglyphics (top) and as the Greek word Ptolemaios (bottom).
1–24. Alphabet characters placed beside each hieroglyph in the cartouches of Ptolemy and Cleopatra demonstrate the approximate phonetic sounds deciphered by Champollion.
1–25. These Egyptian hieroglyphs illustrate the rebus principle. Words and syllables are represented by pictures of objects and by symbols whose names are similar to the word
or syllable to be communicated.These hieroglyphs mean bee, leaf,sea, and sun. As rebuses (using the English language) they could also mean belief and season