City Hall, Hazerswonde, Netherlands, 1960s
Taking notes in the age before notepads was a problem. In the Middle Ages there were no cheap materials around to jot something down on, and then throw it out when you were done with it. In comes the writing tablet. This clever device from Antiquity provided the user with a layer of wax on a wooden frame to capture thoughts and texts with a short halflife. You write what you want on it with a stylus and then smear it all out again when you are done - making the tablet ready for the next go. The image above is special not just because it captures such a tablet, by the looks of it a medieval one, but it also still shows some of the writing, if you look carefully. The thing is, if you pressed too hard with your sharp stylus, you would leave an imprint in the wood behind the wax. And so this specimen shows lots of vague indentations from thoughts and stories uttered centuries ago. Half a line from this text, another half from that one. This is not just a medieval iPad, which you hold in your hand while writing down your own or someone else’s thoughts, it is also a time capsule that shows us bits and pieces of things written down by individuals like you and I - over a thousand years ago. Now that it impressive.