From my diary

This evening I had an email from Matti Mousa, who has translated the whole of Michael the Syrian’s enormous Chronicle from Syriac into English, and is now revising it.  He very kindly condescended to ask if I had any suggestions about what should go into the introduction.  Well, I always have opinions!  So I offered mine, and I hope that wasn’t far too much! 

Meanwhile I was wrestling with the British Museum database of objects, when I came across a set of wax tablets.  They were excavated at Hawara in Egypt in 1888, and date from the Graeco-Roman period.  The tablets are of wood, and have a recess into which wax was placed.  The wax was written on, with a hard point.  The other end of the stylus was flat, and could be used to erase the marks in the wax, so the tablet could be reused.  Careless users tended to scratch the wood, by writing too deeply in the wax.

Here’s the image.  What a pity that the catalogue does not mention what the inscription on the tablets is!

Graeco-Roman wax tablets



3 thoughts on “From my diary

  1. 7.25 inches long by 3.5 inches high is smaller than I would have guessed. And was there a standard size?

  2. I don’t know if there was a standard size, but these items were things you could tuck into your robe, for short notes, or send a love letter on to your mistress — hence the small size.

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