Alan R. Millard

Three ivory writing-boards. Found in a well at Nimrud, in Assyria, these late eighth-century B.C. tablets give us some idea of what wooden writing-boards—a kind of early book—looked like. Only fragments of wooden writing-book boards, also found in the well, have survived. Both ivory and wooden types were coated on one side with wax, on which notes could be inscribed and later erased by smoothing the surface. The ivory boards, at least, were not note-books, but, when found, still bore part of the wax, and on it an Assyrian divinatory text written in tiny cuneiform script. Twelve ivory panels made a set, probably hinged with gold; wooden writing-boards were often hinged in pairs. The hinged boards could contain a long text, which would otherwise occupy many separate clay tablets.