Learning to write on Wax Tablets, 3rd C CE

Judith Weingarten at her blog writes about a student learning to write at Palmyra with some wax tablets surviving from the 3rd C CE, now in the Netherlands:

All seven Tabulae ceratae Assendelftianae were written by a single schoolboy who lived in the city in the early third century CE (as can be determined from the form of his letters). On some tablets, he practiced his hand in both book-script — printing his letters — and cursive — joining them up (as left). It’s very likely that his teacher was dictating the fables while the boy wrote them down as he thought he heard them — with all the errors and smudges, deletions and guesswork that you would expect. There is something very tender in the thought that we have retrieved the halting efforts of a young Palmyran in the early stages of learning the Greek language; we can almost picture him as he hurried to school on the streets of Palmyra with wax tablets tied by strings.”

Her entire post is fascinating and worth reading in its entirety. (Her post appeared around the time that Palmyra was seized from ISIS.)

By Paul Romaine

Paul Romaine is a grant writer and independent curator in New York City.

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