How Were Letters Sent in Ancient Times?

In ancient times, before the advent of modern communication technologies like email and texting, people relied on various methods to send letters to each other. Let’s take a look at some of the ways letters were sent in ancient times.

Cuneiform Tablets

One of the earliest forms of written communication was cuneiform tablets. These were small clay tablets with wedge-shaped marks made by a reed stylus.

The tablets were then baked in an oven to preserve the writing. Cuneiform tablets were used by the Sumerians and Babylonians as early as 3000 BC.

Papyrus Scrolls

The ancient Egyptians developed papyrus scrolls around 2500 BC. Papyrus was made from the pith of the papyrus plant, which was dried and flattened to create a paper-like material. The scrolls were then written on with ink and rolled up for storage or transport.

Wax Tablets

Wax tablets were used by the ancient Greeks and Romans as a reusable writing surface. They consisted of two wooden boards with wax in between them. The writer would use a stylus to write on the wax surface, and then smooth it over to erase or reuse it.

Pigeon Post

Pigeon post was used in ancient China as early as 300 BC. Messages were written on thin strips of bamboo or wood, which were then tied to pigeons’ legs for delivery. Pigeons could fly up to 100 miles per day, making this an efficient mode of communication for short distances.

Carrier Pigeons

Carrier pigeons were also used in ancient Rome and Greece for military purposes. Messages were written on small pieces of paper or parchment and attached to the pigeons’ legs for delivery.

Postal Systems

The first organized postal system was established in Persia in the 6th century BC. The system involved a network of postal stations along major roads, where messengers could exchange horses and rest. In ancient Rome, the postal system was called the cursus publicus and was used for both government and personal correspondence.


In conclusion, letters were sent in various ways throughout ancient times. From cuneiform tablets to carrier pigeons, these methods allowed people to communicate with each other across distances. While these methods may seem primitive by today’s standards, they were revolutionary at the time and paved the way for modern communication technologies that we use today.