Before we look at what storytelling was first used for, let´s take a look what a story actually is: In its core, a story is a narrative account of an event or events – true or fictional. The difference between giving an example and telling a story is the addition of emotional content and added sensory details in the telling.
Knowledge management in caves
Anybody have a good guess how old storytelling actually is!? Yes, stories and myths are actually as old as mankind. Round about 27.000 years old. The first signs of narratives were cave paintings.
It is also interesting to see what stories were first used for. In modern business terms we would say for a) Knowledge management and b) Corporate Culture.
Of T-Rexs and warriors
Think about it; in the absence of written words and other information media, stories worked as a means for transferring knowledge throughout the tribes; and warnings. They weren´t any signposts saying “Danger, you´re entering the T-Rex area”. No; people of the tribe would tell the legend of the hero hunter who was slaughtered behind the rock formations by a giant T-Rex so that other people of their tribe wouldn´t hunt there.
Storytelling in the stone ages also helped the first human tribes to define themselves through myths. These stories helped shape the identity of the tribe, gave it values and boundaries, and helped establish its reputation among rivalling tribes. Improving the corporate culture as a modern time management consultant would say.
It is called the oral tradition. In the absence of modern media products it needed storytellers to orally transport those messages over geographic distances and generations.
It was storytelling in its purest from.