Literature (from the Latin Littera meaning 'letters’ and referring to an acquaintance with the written word) is the written work of a specific culture, sub-culture, religion, philosophy or the study of such written work which may appear in poetry or in prose.
Literature, in the west, originated in the southern Mesopotamia region of Sumer (c. 3200) in the city of Uruk and flourished in Egypt, later in Greece (the written word having been imported there from the Phoenicians) and from there, to Rome.
Writing seems to have originated independently in China from divination practices and also independently in Mesoamerica and elsewhere.
The first author of literature in the world, known by name, was the high-priestess of Ur, Enheduanna (2285-2250 BCE) who wrote hymns in praise of the Sumerian goddess Inanna.
Much of the early literature from Mesopotamia concerns the activities of the gods but, in time, humans came to be featured as the main characters in such poems as Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta and Lugalbanda and Mount Hurrum (c.2600-2000 BCE).
For the purposes of study, Literature is divided into the categories of fiction or non-fiction today but these are often arbitrary decisions as ancient literature, as understood by those who wrote the tales down, as well as those who heard them spoken or sung pre-literacy, was not understood in the same way as it is in the modern-day.