Early treatises on the arts refer to black carbon ink that was prepared by the ancient Chinese and Egyptians. The basis of the ink was a black carbon pigment in an aqueous glue or binding medium. Sometime before the 12th century, Eraclius, in his De Coloribus et Artibus Romanorum, presented a set of directions for making several types of carbon inks, including one similar to the Indian ink of China, made from the soot of burning resin or wood. Different types of wood will create different-colored inks. In an English volume on handwriting of 1581, Theophilus presented a recipe for a carbon ink:
In hast, for a shift when ye have a great neede,
Take woll, or wollen to stand you in steede,
Which burnt in the fyre, the powder beate small:
With vinegar,or water make Inke withall.