Writing first appeared in ancient Mesopotamia, the area between the two rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, that now lies in modern Iraq. The first language to be written was Sumerian. The form of writing used was cuneiform, marks inscribed on clay tablets using a wedge-shaped stylus. Each cuneiform symbol represents either an idea or a syllable.
Writing is significant for several reasons. It allows communication at a distance and complex record keeping. These two capabilities taken together made it an enabling technology for the great empires of antiquity, including the Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Hittite, Persian and Roman ones.