These words were left here long ago. That was back in the time when humans used the written word. There are not many left who still know how to read, mostly only enthusiasts and academic experts. Back when these words were written, people used things they called books, huge bulky collections of written words to keep records and to entertain each other.
It seems odd now we have other, far better ways of storing information and entertainment. Of course, words are necessary, essential. Without them, we could not communicate, inform or entertain each other. Nor could we argue, discuss or fight for what we believe or do not believe.
However, we no longer have to write them down. We no longer need or want the written word.
Back then, there used to be whole industries devoted to writing the words down. There was even – quaint, as it seems to us now – a book industry. But by the time these words were carved on this stone, that too was dying away. The book world, the book society, was beginning its long, slow descent into obscurity. Now books are only owned and kept by collectors, antiquarians. Those who feel a need to keep some connection to the past open.
Back when this monument was made, people were already moving away from the written word. Back then what was called the Internet was already starting to supplant the written word with pictures and videos. You no longer had to read a book to find out anything. Increasingly, the written word was less important than video or simply just talking over what they called the worldwide web. Of course, it was crude by contemporary standards, but already people were beginning to see that writing and reading were becoming outdated.
Of course, it took a few decades or so for people to realise how much things had changed. It took even longer for the education system to catch up. Even then, there were still traditionalists and others who thought it necessary to teach children to read. Even though the children would never need the skill for the rest of their lives, some educational theorists claimed that learning to read helped develop the brain.
But as research showed there was nothing natural about the ability to read. It just trained the mind to think a certain way that was no better and – some argued – could be even worse than not reading. As many pointed out, the human brain had evolved to – or been evolved – by learning to use language, but reading had nothing to do with that. Writing was just storage medium, a bit like a crude version of your Virtual Personal Assistant implant. Reading was just the retrieval method, just like people back in those days used screens to watch video on or speakers to play sounds.
So, once we have cleaned off the dust of the centuries from this artefact, it will be scanned and reimaged into virtual reality. Then everyone in the world can look, touch, feel and smell this piece of ancient, long-lost history.
Perhaps one or two of the many millions who look it up in their VPA encyclopaedia will even learn how to try to read it. Perhaps they may even make sense of those far distant times that used the written word, those long lost times that seem so strange to us all now.