My friend went to Rome (2,000 years ago) and all I got was this lousy pen!

Archaeology is a fascinating field. It helps us understand who we were thousands of years ago.

It’s even more exciting when it uncovers how similar we are to our ancestors.

The Museum of London Archaeology team uncovered an ancient stylus (a fancy word for ancient pen) dating back to 70 CE.

A unique inscribed Roman stylus uncovered by MOLA archaeologists during excavations for Bloomberg's European headquarters in London. The inscription has been highlighted in yellow (c) MOLA

The stylus inscription says in Latin:

“I have come from the City. I bring you a welcome gift
with a sharp point that you may remember me.
I ask, if fortune allowed, that I might be able (to give)
as generously as the way is long (and) as my purse is empty.”

“The City” is most likely Rome, the most significant city in the Roman world at the time. London (or Londinium as it was known to the Romans), where the stylus was found was also an important part of the empire.

The pen is nothing more than a souvenir, similar to what a tourist would buy in New York or Paris today, stating that they visited the big metropolis but their limited budget only allowed them to buy a cheap gift for their friends or family.

Something so relatable from 2,000 years ago can only make you smile, right?

It also reminds me of another tourist feature that has seemed to be around forever: reviews. In a Pharaoh Tomb in Egypt, archaeologists found the equivalent of Yelp reviews of the ancient world.

People who visited the tomb made inscriptions on the walls. A lot of them are just something along the lines of “John Doe was here” (the equivalent of a Foursquare check-in maybe?), while some others would write about their experience at the tomb.

One visitor wrote:

“I visited, and I did not like anything except the sarcophagus!

Another one complained:

“I cannot read the hieroglyphs!”

Only to get a response by another visitor (maybe an early version of a Facebook comment?):

“Why do you care that you cannot read the hieroglyphs? I do not understand your concern.”

Maybe we haven’t really changed since the ancient times…

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