If literature is considered to be the written word, then the history of literature begins with the invention of writing; this is believed to be dated as far back as the 26th or 27th century BCE. The earliest writings can be linked to the Ancient Sumerians in the Early Bronze Age, beginning with texts from the settlement at Abu Salabikh. The Ancient Egyptians also played a role in these earliest forms of literature, predominantly through religious texts found carved into walls and burial chambers in various pyramids. The Middle Bronze Age sees more writing from the Akkadians and Hittites, including the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Code of Hammurabi.
In the period of time known as Classical Antiquity, the writings of the Ancient Greeks, Ancient Indians, Ancient Hebrews, and Ancient Chinese began to emerge. The Illiad and the Odyssey emerged in the 8th century BCE, and the earliest Hebrew texts (other than the first five books of the Torah) were seen at the same time. In the 6th century BCE, Sun Tzu wrote The Art of War in Ancient China; the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu would be written in the 4th century BCE. Similarly, the works of poet Sappho and Aesop’s Fables were written in Ancient Greece in the 6th Century BCE. The 5th century BCE would bring some of the most well-known authors from Ancient Greece, including Herodotus, Thucydides, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes; Plato, Aristotle, and Euclid would come in the 4th century BCE. The works from this time period offer significant insight into the cultures and societies throughout the world in the earliest days of humanity, supplementing historical and archaeological research to provide a clearer picture overall.