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stylus
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: stilus; plural styli, styluses
CATEGORY: artifact; language
DEFINITION: Pointed writing instrument made from a variety of materials: reed stem, bone, ivory, or metal (iron, bronze, silver). The sharpened implement is shaped like a pen with a wedge-shaped tip and one end flattened like a spatula; the latter served either to spread the wax on a writing tablet or to erase by smoothing. The stylus was used in ancient times as a tool for writing on parchment or papyrus. The early Greeks incised letters on wax-covered boxwood tablets using a stylus. A stylus was also used for impressing cuneiform writing into wet clay tablets, which were then baked.

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