Actual writing took a long time to develop. For thousands of years, men drew pictures of their activities and sent their messages in the form of pictures (photographs), which represented events. This system developed into a form of writing around 3, 500 B. C. Archaeologists have determined that the earliest form of writing was born in Erech, a city of the Sumerians, which flourished around 3500 B.C. Within its ancient ruins, they discovered hundreds of clay tablets, all inscribed with symbols, pictures and number markings. The Sumerian inscriptions used some pictures, but they were surrounded with other markings and signs that denoted sounds and monetary amounts. It was a step above the pictograph. Some of the marks actually represented verbal expression, and some combinations actually formed words. The Egyptians and the Orientals kept the pure pictograph method for a much longer period.