The witty message on the stylus has been deciphered by a classicist and epigrapher. Courtesy MOLA
This humble London-Roman stylus with a witty message is mixing it up with the treasures of Pompeii
Whether as giver or receiver, most people have experienced the deliberately naff holiday present. But few know how this droll practice has a long tradition that stretches back – way beyond the rise of the English seaside town – deep into antiquity.
At the Museum of London, excavations led by MOLA for financial technology and information company Bloomberg’s European headquarters in London, on the bank of the river Walbrook – a now lost tributary of the Thames, have found a roguish example of the token of friendship.
An iron stylus, used to write on wax-filled wooden writing tablets and dating to around AD 70, just a few decades after Roman London was founded, has been found with an inscription, which has been painstakingly examined and translated by classicist and epigrapher Dr Roger Tomlin, reads:
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