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8.5 Writing

Artefacts from Vetera I which are considered to be for writing include: iron and bone styli, ceramic and bronze inkwells, and bronze seal boxes. Bone pins with a marked shoulder are identified as styli. Compasses have been categorised as 'weighing and measuring'.

A number of other artefacts may have been used for writing but this is by no means certain. Among these are incomplete bone pins or bone pins whose potential shoulder has not survived, and iron and lead implements that could also have been styli.

8.5.1 Analysis and interpretation of the distribution patterns at Vetera

8.5.1a All artefacts categorised as certain writing equipment (W1)

Following a review of legacy systems and in line with broader ADS practice, the interactive map element of this article has been decommissioned. The full underlying set of data is still available for download from the digital archive.

Screendump of query from desktop ArcGIS
Screendump of ArcGIS query - (W1), certain writing equipment

There are thirty-eight items definitively identified as writing equipment (W). Five in Building G and one near Buildings C and D were from pre-Claudian contexts. Of the remaining thirty-two, predominantly of Neronian date, concentrations are observable in the following places: four in the courtyard of tribune house K; five in front of the west side of Building A and two on the west side of the courtyard of Building A; four just inside the east gate, in barracks V and Buildings U and T; and six in the west part of Building F. Two more were found on the via principalis sides of each of palace H and Building b. Single finds were also made: near the north gate; in the suite of rooms in the north-east corner of tribune house M; in a trench between Buildings B and G; in palace P and possibly the street to the north of palace P; in Building S; and in the front part of Building Z.

The concentration in the area of Building F is the most significant, suggesting that this may have been an area where scribes worked. This is probably also the case for the parts of Building A where writing equipment was found - in one or more rooms on the west side off the courtyard and in one or more of the rooms along the front probably opening onto the street. The concentration in the courtyard of tribune house K perhaps reminds us that the 'home office' is nothing new! These concentrations were also noted by Hanel (1995, 132).

8.5.1b All artefacts categorised as uncertain writing equipment (W2)

Screendump of query from desktop ArcGIS
Screendump of ArcGIS query - (W2), possible writing equipment

Two of the seven possible writing implements were found outside the Claudian-Neronian fortifications and another two probably in a pre-Claudian context in the vicinity of Building G (Trench 325, pit 2). The remaining three items - fragments of two bone pins and a possible iron stylus - were found in Building A, in similar locations to the more certain writing implements. These items potentially strengthen the identification of these areas as places where scribes worked, and the identification of these fragments as writing equipment rather of than hairpins or spindles.

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Last updated: Mon Apr 4 2005