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Ancient Tablets Reveal Link to our Literary Past

Recently discovered at a construction site

In the midst of Central London skyscrapers, a remarkable cache of ancient wooden tablets recently discovered at a construction site have revealed a literary link to Roman Britain. In excess of four hundred tablets have been discovered with various inscriptions relating to a number of topics, including business and legal dealings. One tablet, which takes the form of a financial document, is dated to 8 January 57 AD and is therefore the earliest intrinsically-dated document ever found in the UK. A precursor to the pen and paper, wooden tablets of this type were used across the Roman Empire, and were coated in blackened beeswax and etched upon with a stylus. Although the beeswax coating has long since disappeared from these examples, they have remained remarkably well-preserved due to the absence of oxygen in the wet mud of the Walbrook – one of London’s many buried rivers.

The Latin alphabet ranks amongst the most important of our inheritances from the Roman age and was brought to Britain at the time of the Roman Conquest in 43 AD. A writing system which evolved from the Greek alphabet, the Latin alphabet was developed by the Romans and is now the world’s most widely used writing system.

Early examples of the Latin alphabet were not just confined to tablets, inscriptions can be found on Roman buildings, monuments and jewellery. Looking to secure your own little piece of our literary past? At Berganza, we have a number of inscribed Roman rings, referring to GodsEmperors and even beverages – all of which can be viewed and purchased in store or directly through our website. 

front view Ancient Roman gold ring hatton garden berganza
Roman inscribed gold ring, circa 1st-3rd century AD.
Ref: 27539
ancient roman gold ring hatton garden berganza
Ancient Roman 'Patri Matri' gold ring, circa 3rd century AD.
Ref: 26231
Ancient Roman 'EVT/VXI' gold signet ring berganza hatton garden
Ancient Roman 'EVT/VXI' gold signet ring, circa 2nd - 3rd century AD.
Ref: 27540
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Updated 25/05/2024 at 2:00PM

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