Roman-era Dig in Britain Unearths Joke Pen

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July 29, 2019

A 2000-year-old pen with a joke inscribed on it is part of a find during excavations in London recently.

Roman Britain joke stylus

The pen is really an iron stylus–what passed for a writing implement in A.D. 70, to which the stylus dates–and the inscription on stylus is an example of the kind of mirth that would have been common in Roman times but also hasn't lost luster for today's jokesters: "I have come from the city. I bring you a welcome gift with a sharp point that you may remember me. I ask, if fortune allowed, that I might be able [to give] as generously as the is way is long [and] as my purse is empty."

A team digging on behalf of the Museum of London Archaeology found the pen and many artifacts during excavations on the bank of the river Walbrook. The excavations, which were near Cannon Street station, took place from 2010 to 2014, and preceded development of Bloomberg's European headquarters. In all, the digs unearthed about 14,000 artifacts for the first century in which the Roman Empire ruled Britain, including more than 400 waxed writing tablets.

The joke stylus is about the length of a modern pen. Archaeologists have found few other such inscribed stylus implements.

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Social Studies for Kids
copyright 2002–2018
David White

Social Studies for Kids
copyright 2002–2019
David White