Whilst the ancient Egyptians created what is known as the 'Chester Beatty' document written on Papyrus, one of the earliest documents about dreams, a Roman named 'Artemidorus' wrote the first comprehensive book regarding dream interpretation, in about 140 AD. It is called 'Oneirocriticon' which, perhaps unsurprisingly, translates as 'The Interpretation of Dreams' . Artemidorus is thought to have been influenced by earlier works though with many of his own ideas added. In his book, which consisted of 5 volumes, Artemidorus expounds the view that a persons dreams are influenced by their social status, occupation and health and that the symbols in their dreams reflect that. He also states that ‘the rules of dreaming are not general, and therefore cannot satisfy all persons, but often, according to times and persons, they admit of varied interpretations.’
An example of Artemidorus' interpretations is that he believed a dream about bathing in clean water foretold much good fortune and bathing in muddy water the reverse.
A second Oneirocriticon was written by a man who called himself 'Astrampsychus' though many scholars attribute it to 'Nicephorus' a Byzantine writer and think it was written much later than Roman times.
Many of the interpretations in both these books are similar to those still in vogue today which, considering the fact that Artemidorus was heavily influenced by earlier texts, demonstrates that some of these ideas have been around for thousand of years, with little change.