Romano-British Writing Tablets 2023-2028

This British Academy Research programme has been based at the CSAD since 1997. It focusses on the analysis and interpretation of the many hundreds of written documents discovered in the Roman province of Britannia since the 1970s. Along with traditional methods of deciphering and editing the texts, the research has promoted computer-based imaging programmes for the compilation of online catalogues of ink writing-tablets and has developed new image-enhancement techniques for texts incised on wooden stilus tablets and lead curse tablets (Reflectance Transformation Imaging). The accumulation of digital resources for the study of such documents makes the CSAD a world leader in research of this kind.   

Archaeological excavations continue to bring exciting new documents to light and Britannia has proved to be the most important new source of evidence for the history of the Latin language in the early centuries of the Roman empire, which is an important complement to the LatinNow project. We continue to publish new finds and to re-interpret known material of this type from Romano-British sites, including Vindolanda, Carlisle, London, Bath and Uley. Work is currently underway on about thirty new ink tablets from the military fort of Vindolanda, discovered in 2016/7, some of which will be published in 2019, on digitising the unique cache of almost 400 stilus tablets from the earliest phases of the Roman settlement at Londinium, found on the site of the office of the Bloomberg Corporation, and on the lead curse tablets from the temple site at Uley in Gloucestershire. 

The current focus (2023-2028) is developing a corpus of writing tablets, which will be published in the forthcoming volume of RIB IV, and improving imaging techniques for deciphering stylus tablets. 


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