Seals and stamps
Prior to the invention of woodblock printing, seals and stamps were used for making impressions. The oldest of these seals came from Mesopotamia and Egypt. The use of round "cylinder seals" for rolling an impress onto clay tablets goes back to early Mesopotamian civilization before 3000 BC, where they are the most common works of art to survive, and feature complex and beautiful images. A few much larger brick (e.g. 13×13 cm) stamps for marking clay bricks survive from Akkad from around 2270 BC. There are also Roman lead pipe inscriptions of some length that were stamped, and amulet MS 5236 may be a unique surviving gold foil sheet stamped with an amulet text in the 6th century BC. However none of these used ink, which is necessary for printing (on a proper definition), but stamped marks into relatively soft materials. In both China and Egypt, the use of small stamps for seals preceded the use of larger blocks. In Europe and India, the printing of cloth certainly preceded the printing of paper or papyrus; this was probably also the case in China. The process is essentially the same—in Europe special presentation impressions of prints were often printed on silk until at least the 17th century.