For Romans being literate was an essential part of the Roman education. A basic grasp of literacy was essential for any Roman citizen to participate in business and citizen life. We have many items from the collection at the Baths that highlight this:
· Imitation Samian ware which shows a literate potter’s stamp – this shows that some of the craftsmen were literate and they used literacy as a means of identification on their products.
· A fragment of an iron stylus, which was discovered at Lansdown. This highlights to us that in the areas surrounding Bath there was a high level of literacy.
· Fragments from a Samian jar/ink pot. This would have been used when writing on wooden tablets or papyrus.
· A fragment of a public inscription that was cut into white marble found in the Temple precinct.
] IB CL T[
This might be translated as:
TIBERIUS CLAUDIUS [SON OF] TIBERIUS
Finally and some might say most importantly, the curse tablets embody through literacy the essential humanity of the inhabitants of Aquae Sulis and suggest to us that literacy may be more wide spread than we had initially assumed. We can see from the tablets that the inhabitants of Aquae Sulis used their literacy as a means of communicating with the Goddess Sulis Minerva. One of the Curse tablets, that I had on display from the collection, had inscribed upon it a list of names of the suspected thieves.
As part of the activity both adults and children alike were able to have a go at writing their own name in Latin, both on a replica wooden writing tablet and also on a piece of paper which they could take home!
Alice Marsh, Student Placement