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Roman ink

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Roman ink
Author: The History Girls

Today, Roman letters are associated mainly with a monumental square capital, engraved in stone arches and columns. On a daily basis, however, the inhabitants of the empire – writings letters, poems or keeping trade correspondence – used less durable tools.

The texts were written on wax tablets, papyrus and parchment. While tabulae required only a stick that was used to scrap off the letters, parchment and papyrus demanded ink. The first mention of him comes from the comedy of Plaut – Mostellaria, where he ironically expresses admiration for attempts to whiten the ivory with ink. More about the ink is written by Pliny, thanks to which we know that soot from burned resin or tar mixed with arabic rubber was used to create this writing material.

In order to obtain soot, special furnaces were built to stop the smoke. He also claims that some types of ink were made from cooked and imprinted wine mists. In order to protect manuscripts against attacks by hungry mice, the scientist advised to add an infusion of wormwood to the ink.

Author: Katarzyna Herman
Sources
  • A.P.Montague, Writing materials and books among the ancient Romans, "American anthropologist" vol. III.

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