Writing materials

Roman Writing Materials

At first, Romans used wooden tablets around 20 centimeters wide and six to 15 centimeters long. The surfaces were whitened and they were written on with ink.

These were replaced by wax tablets which were usually poured with black wax. The writing was scratched into the wax with a stylus made of bronze or bone (stylus / graphium). If you wanted to erase it all, the stylus was turned over and the spatula-shaped side was used to smooth the wax. Usually several tablets were bound together with a string. In this way, the so-called diptych, triptych, or polytych (two, three, multi-tablets) were created.

If you wrote something confidential, then you placed a wax seal on the place where the string was attached.

Papyrus was used as writing material for literary texts, private or public documents, protocols, letters, and similar things. Until it was replaced by parchment in the late antiquity, this was the predominant writing material of ancient times. The sheets made from the marrow of the Egyptian papyrus plant were sold glued together in scrolls between six and ten meters long and of different widths.

The Romans wrote on parchment and papyrus with quills from reeds or bronze (calami). The dull calamus was sharpened with a small knife called a scalprum.

A writing case had several calami and an inkpot (atramentarium).