Matthew Battles

Matthew Battles is the author of Palimpsest: A History of the Written Word and Library: An Unquiet History. He is the associate director of metaLAB at Harvard University, a research group exploring roles for technology in the arts, history, and the sciences.

All Writing

Roundtable

Words Without Borders

By Matthew Battles

Writing began in the marketplace, with the scribbling of merchants in the Greek agora. From there it became the translator of songs, of Homer’s epic tales and Hesiod’s tales of the muses. But it would take a thousand years and a leap across a continent to the medieval scriptorium of Anglo-Saxon monks before writing would be shaped, standardized, copied, and recopied, into what we know understand to be literature. More