The History of Storytelling


Grace Poore

For national story day, here are different ways that people have told stories throughout history. 


In 30,000 BC, cave paintings are the first known evidence of storytelling, mainly depicting hunting and rituals, found in the Chauvet Caves. Cave paintings are not only the first stories, but also visual storytelling. Then came oral, or spoken storytelling.  Before people could read, or writing systems existed, stories were told through voice. Oral storytelling gives many different people access to stories, and are often passed down through  generations of people. This tradition has kept myths and legends alive since ancient times, and continues today. 


Written storytelling is first seen in 700 BC when the Epic of Gilgamesh was carved on the walls of a city. A widespread printed story was the Bible, printed in many languages to further the outreach of religious knowledge. 


In 1826 the first photograph was taken, a new innovation in visual storytelling. For the first time, it was possible to capture a moment exactly as it was. Visual storytelling evolved quickly from there, from tampering with the photographs to get desired results, to television, and movies and even holograms. 


Today, the many forms of storytelling often overlap in the mediums the audience uses to access tales and information. Oral storytelling is seen in both the traditional way, and online, in podcasts, voice memos, and even music. Oral, visual, and written storytelling overlap in graphic novels, comics, video diaries, movies, videos, tik-toks, and social media. Printed stories are around through books, pamphlets, brochures, posters, banners, and advertisements. Printed and visual storytelling cooperate in the making of magazines. Interactive storytelling is seen now in things like video games and virtual reality.


Sources: Cortex (