One of the most useful ways for an entity to convey their message to the public, and more importantly their intended audience, is to utilize signs. Their effectiveness in communicating ideas and messages has been deemed invaluable to modern societies around the world. Signage itself has been in existence far before these societies even began to form though. The history of signs dates incredibly far back into the existence of human beings. The reason for this immense history is quite simply explained by looking at our modern reasons for needing signage. Where we, the societies of earth, require direction and communication through signage, so too did the people of ancient history. Signs have been found throughout multiple different ancient civilizations located across the globe. The abundance of this medium indicates their importance and solidifies the practice of sign creation and usage as one of the most enduring forms of human communication.
One of the earliest indicators of signage being used in ancient times came about with the discovery of Babylonian clay tablets that acted as indicators for the people living within the civilization. This ancient Babylonian sign was used to promote vendors and their wares. This is not the only instance of ancient signage being found though. The city of Pompeii, well known for the volcanic eruption that obliterated the city in 79 A.D., has been a hub for sign findings. As Pompeii was unearth an abundance of signs were found, most of which were used in a similar fashion to the Babylonian signs. This was the simplest and most effective way for merchants and vendors to get their message across to their potential customers who passed by their locations, much like the companies who advertize today.
Signs throughout history have been used for more than purely marketing purposes. Just as societies today have directional signage, so too did the people of historical cultures. The way that messages were conveyed was in a much simpler fashion than it is in its modern iteration. Signs are meant to not be overly complex so that they can reach as broad of a market as possible. The same is true of the ancient sign. Many people throughout history were not literate as a result of receiving little to no education whatsoever. As a result signs had to be simplified so that they could be understood by the masses. This meant that symbols – now known as logos – became incredibly important to those that created the signage, most often the shop owners themselves. Using symbols to indicate a product or message allowed for their message to be understood clearly and helped increase traffic to their outlets.
It is truly amazing how signs have become so ingrained within human societies across the world. The need for signs has only increased. Individuals rely on these indicators every day to help direct them and accomplish what they need done. This integration with humanity is deep. Even the ancients saw the need for communication through the use of signage. Signs will continue to evolve, just as they have since the dawn of their creation, and they will continue to serve the same purpose that they have for over five thousand years.