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Home > Auctions > 4th June 2024 > Roman Inscribed Wooden Wax Tablet, a Legal Document

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LOT 0102

GBP (£) 1,500 - 2,000
EUR (€) 1,760 - 2,350
USD ($) 1,910 - 2,550

Current bid: £320 (+bp*)
(5 Bids, Reserve met)

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(5 Bids, Reserve met)   |   Current bid: £320
5 1/8 x 5 1/8 in. (20.6 grams 13 x 13 cm).

An untranslated reused tablet with a recessed panel with traces of more than 15 lines with the remains of letters written in cursive script, originally the panel was covered by a layer of wax, with a stylus the writer scratched the text into the soft wax and often also into the wooden ground, as such tablets were normally reused several times, traces of different texts can be found on the wooden surface, four lines of large inked text to verso, a record of a transaction in a formulaic legal language; either from a legal document comprising two (diptychon) or three (triptychon) panels; pierced three times for attachment. [No Reserve]

From an important London collection since 1975.

Accompanied by a collection of eight 1970s photographs of the the tablet.

Rothenhoefer, P., Neue römische Rechtsdokumente aus dem Byzacena-Archiv / New Roman Legal Documents from the Byzacena Archive, (forthcoming).

Cf. Rothenhöfer, P., Blänsdorf, Jürgen, Sana mente sanaque memoria testa-mentum feci: Eine testamentarische Verfügung vom 12. April 340 n. Chr., Gephyra 13, 2016, pp.153-163; Rothenhöfer, P., Neues zum Testament des Pomponius Maximus aus dem Jahr 371 n. Chr., (forthcoming); see also Masi Doria, C., Dal testamento di Pomponius Maximus: prospettive del diritto ereditario tardo antico, in: Isola, L. (ed.), Klauselgestaltungen in Römischen Testamenten, Berlin, 2022, pp.151-175; also see Thomas, J. D., Vindolanda: The Latin Writing Tablets, Britannia Monograph Series No 4, London, 1983, for examples of wooden tabulae re-used as writing surfaces; for examples of testamentary documents on wooden tablets that have survived, see FIRA III, p.47, for Anthony Silvanus from 142 AD, also see BGU VII 1695 for Safinnius Herminus; for another from Transfynydd, North Wales, see Arch. Camb. 150, pp.143-156; and see Bowman, A.K., Life and letters on the Roman frontier : Vindolanda and its people, London, 1994, for discussion of the uses of Roman writing tablets.

The contract follows the standard Roman legal formulae.