Archaeologists discover 1,800-year-old writing tool in the ancient Greek city Assos,Turkey

A bronze stylus was found in Assos, a small historic town located in the northwestern Turkish province of Canakkale.

Researchers have uncovered a 1,800-year-old writing implement, or stylus, at the ancient Greek archaeological site of Assos in northwestern Turkey.

The city was founded from 1000 to 900 BC by Aeolian colonists from Lesbos, who specifically are said to have come from Methymna. The settlers built a Doric Temple to Athena on top of the crag in 530 BC. From this temple Hermias of Atarneus, a student of Plato, ruled Assos, the Troad and Lesbos for a period of time, under which the city experienced its greatest prosperity. (Strangely, Hermias was actually the slave of the ruler of Atarneus.

St. Paul also visited the city during his third missionary journey through Asia Minor, which was between 53-57 AD, on his way to Mytilene on the island of Lesbos. Acts 20 records that Luke the Evangelist and his companions ('we') "went ahead to the ship and sailed [from Troas] to Assos, there intending to take Paul on board ... and when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and came to Mitylene".

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, the head of the Assos excavations, Professor Nurettin Arslan from Canakkale Onsekiz Mart University said the bronze instrument was pointed at one end and flat on the other.

According to Arslan, the tool which was discovered recently would have been used to write, take notes and make calculations on wax tablets used during that period.

“The flat part at the back side of the stylus was used to make corrections,” he said, likening it to today’s erasers.

Noting that students and merchants at that time used these sorts of writing tools, Arslan said that some pupils used it to write on sand or ceramic floors.

“Students who were financially better off, used it to write on wax tablets, to learn how to read and write as well as to practise their handwriting,” he said.

Merchants and the rich who did their own accounting also used these kinds of gadgets during the period, he added.

According to Arslan, one needed to be literate to own these kinds of styli. He said that not only free people but also some slaves were literate then.

“Educated slaves could also use these ... for their owners’ calculations or for certain notes,” Arslan added.

According to Arslan, as people during Roman times used wax tablets, they needed to make writing tools from hard materials. That is why bronze or bone was generally used to make styli.

The Turkish archaeologist said every period had its own stylus designs, but bronze was more commonly used during this era as it was hard.

Arslan also said that the Assos excavations had uncovered a piece from a 2,500-year-old vase, which was imported from Athens and a 2,000-year-old ceramic remnant.


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