byzantine-ipadTurkish archaeologists have recently unearthed on the European side of the Bosphorus and claim that the find is a 1200-year-old wooden object, which is the equivalent of a tablet computer—both a notebook and tool.

The Byzantine invention was found while excavating a harbor site in one of 37 ships unearched in the Yenikapi area of Istanbul.  Also know as Theodosius Port, the harbor was built in the late 4th century during the reign of Emperor Theodosius I. It was considered the city’s most important commercial port and has been at the center of excavations for the past 10 years.

The object likely belonged to the ship’s captain, the wooden artifact’s cover is carved with decorations and is about the size of a modern seven-inch tablet, but much thicker.

As documented in a Discovery News article, “It consists of a set of five overlaid rectangular panels carved with frames and covered with wax. Notes could be taken on those panels, as shown by writing in Greek which is still visible on the wax.

A primitive “app” is hidden on the bottom panel: a sliding lid revealing a hidden plate with carved spaces.

“When you draw the sliding part, there are small weights used as an assay balance,” Ufuk Kocabaş, director of Istanbul University’s department of marine archeology and the Yenikapi Shipwrecks Project, told Hurriyet Daily News.”

Likely used to assess the value of some items assay balances were used to determine the metal content in ore or the kind of precious metal in an alloy. Amazing.

“The notebook could have been easily carried. Each panel features four holes — they were drilled in two pairs in order to bind the notebook together, probably by leather straps.

“Yenikapı is a phenomenon with its 37 sunken ships and organic products. I think these organic products are the most important feature of the excavations,” Kocabaş said.

The sunken ship upon which the “Byzantine iPad” was found, has been dated to around the 9th century A.D.”

The container the merchant vessel had been carrying indicates the vessel sailed the Black Sea, transporting goods from Crimea to Kersonesos. The ship is now being restored and 60 percent has survived in good condition. The goal is to have her set sail again by 2015.

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