Writing is a universal skill, but it can also be an art form. Almost every literate society has a class of professional scribes who are also artists. In ancient Mesopotamia scribes were trained in scribal schools. In Egypt less is known about the lives of scribes, as the evidence was written on papyri, which do not last as well as clay tablets. Successful scribes were of high status. ‘Calligraphy’ meaning ‘beautiful writing’ has been practised in all literate cultures and eras from the Egyptian hieroglyphs to the medieval Western illuminated manuscripts, and is still seen today. Calligraphy is also practised in Chinese and Japanese writing and is a recognised art form.