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 Museum Explorer

Daily life in
Roman Britain

Ink-well

Diameter: 7.500 cm
Height: 5.800 cm

P&EE 1950 2-6 1

Ink-well

From: Cannon Street, London
Date: 1st-3rd centuries AD

The Romans introduced writing to Britain for the first time, and we still use the Roman alphabet today. Using the same language, Latin, meant that people from distant parts of the Empire could easily communicate with one another.

People wrote by dipping a pen in ink and making marks on papyrus or thin pieces of wood. Ink was made by mixing finely ground soot with water and other ingredients. This much-used object is a pottery ink-well that once belonged to someone called Iucundus. Can you work out his name on the side of the ink-well?