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Roman Cetamura

Bone Implement (Stylus?)

ca. 100 – 50 BCE
Well #1
Cet. Inventory
Inv. C-13-452

This finely polished bone tool was most probably used as a stylus, an instrument for writing on wax.   The pointed end would make incisions in the wax, and the rounded end could be used to make erasures. Like many objects in Well # 1, it was very likely an offering thrown into the well.

Inv. C-13-452, C-13-693, C-13-738. Prov. 5N/18W.95. L. 11.6. W. 0.6 at head, 0.8 at widest section. Wt. 11 g  

Three joining pieces of a whole cylindrical worked-bone implement. Found with the globular head and point broken off, perhaps intentionally so for ritual purposes. Bone is finely polished, dark gray with some blackened areas, especially at the head.

The usage of such implements is subject to debate. Some 10 items of this type were found in Well # 1.  The possible identifications are: stylus for writing, cosmetic applicator, and hairpin. For this example, a slightly blunted point and wear on one section of the globular end suggest use as a stylus for writing and erasing on wax.  Further, its weight seems too heavy to be practical as a hairpin or applicator.

The location in the well of these implements is also problematic for their identification as Etruscan or as Roman artifacts, since they come from both Etruscan and Roman Well Groups and one specimen even had joining parts coming from two groups spanning as much as nearly 140 years.  

Dating: Found in Well Group IV (ca. 100–50 BCE).

Bibl.: Ruegg 1995, 95.  Bianchi 1995. Stephens 2008.

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