The British Museum

Although the wax on the Uluburun writing board disappeared long ago, ancient wax fragments were discovered still clinging to some late-eighth-century B.C. tablets from the Northwest Palace in Nimrud. A number of these wax fragments still bear legible traces of cuneiform writing (see photo of wax fragment).

The Nimrud writing-board wax was mixed with a yellowish substance called orpiment (sulfide of arsenic) at a ratio of 4:1 for consistency and color. Orpiment was also found on the Uluburun ship—perhaps suggesting that methods of preparing the writing wax remained essentally the same for centuries.