Ancient Roman ‘Pen’ Was a Joke Souvenir

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Ancient Roman stylus

The tradition of buying cheap, joke souvenirs for your loved ones while travelling dates back at least two millennia.

During an archaeological excavation at a Roman-era site in London, researchers found around 200 iron styluses used for writing on wax-filled wooden tablets. One of those styluses, which just debuted in its first public exhibition, holds a message written in tiny lettering along its sides. The inscription’s sentiment, according to the researchers who translated it, is essentially, “I went to Rome and all I got you was this pen.”

Also found in this excavation, I assume, were t-shirts printed with “I ❤ Pompeii” and moneyboxes in the shape of the Parthenon.

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