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The history of advertising: Pre-modern history

2 mins read

Believe it or not, but ancient civilizations and all eras pre-modern history used similar advertising methods to kinds that are still used today. Early examples of advertising show that ancient Egyptians used papyrus to make sales advertisements and wall messages which are similar to our billboards today. Ancient Greeks and Romans also had different kinds of advertisements including lost and found ads.


Wall paintings began in ancient times and are still around today in parts of Asia, Africa and South America. The wall painting tradition can be traced back to Indian rock art in 4000 BC and can be found in certain cities.

In ancient China copper printing plates showed images and copy promoting local shops and businesses. Signboards that were written in calligraphy and inked papers were also quite common, like our modern day flyers or pamphlets.



In Europe during the Middle Ages most people couldn’t read so instead of writing on signs for businesses like a blacksmith they would just use an image of a horseshoe. Town criers were used to let customers know where vendors would be selling fruits and vegetables.

We think it’s so cool to think about how ancient civilizations used advertising methods that are very similar to some of the kinds that we still use for customer acquisition.

It’s the same idea as the guy dressed in a pizza costume holding a sign on the corner of the street promoting a special at the local pizza place.

We’re sure years from now the first RoboAgency will be discussed in advertising classes, just like we’re talking about how they advertised before the 19th century.


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