An Egyptian schoolboy’s 1800-year-old wax tablet is to go on display in a new exhibition on the history of writing at the British Library in London.

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A schoolchild's homework in Greek on a wax tablet. Image: British Library

The tablet was acquired by the library in 1892 and it has Greek letters etched into it. There are two lines written by the teacher, which translated say: “You should accept advice from a wise man only” and “You cannot trust all your friends.” Then below that, the student has copied the aphorisms on four lower lines. It is believed that the student is a high-status boy from a wealthy family, because formal education at that time was reserved for upper-class males. Elsewhere on the tablet there's a multiplication table and a reading exercise.

The British Library in central London

The tablet will be displayed as part of the Writing: Making Your Mark exhibition, which will debut at the British Library on April 26 and run through August 27. It will use 100 artefacts to trace the history of the written word over five millennia and five continents. Other notable objects with stories to tell include William Caxton’s 1476 edition of Canterbury Tales, the first book printed in England,  a Chinese typewriter from the 1970s and examples from over 30 different writing systems.

Travel News - British Library
The British Library is hosting a writing exhibition. Photo by: chrisdorney/Shutterstock

Beginning with the origins of writing in Egypt, Mesopotamia, China and the Americas, the exhibition will explore the many manifestations, purposes and forms of writing. It will demonstrate how writing has continually enabled human progress and will question the role it plays in an increasingly digital world.

For further information on the exhibition, see here.

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