What Did They Use to Write in Ancient Greece?

In ancient Greece, writing was an essential part of their culture. They recorded everything from literature to laws and philosophy.

But what did they use to write? Let’s take a closer look at the materials and techniques used by the ancient Greeks.

Writing Materials

The ancient Greeks used a variety of materials to write on, including papyrus, parchment, and wax tablets.

Papyrus was a plant-based material that grew along the Nile River in Egypt. The Greeks imported papyrus from Egypt and used it to create scrolls that could be several feet long. Papyrus was lightweight and easy to transport, making it an excellent choice for written documents.

Parchment, on the other hand, was made from animal skins, usually sheep or goat. Parchment was more durable than papyrus and could be folded or sewn together into books. However, parchment was more expensive than papyrus, so it was often reserved for important documents like legal contracts or religious texts.

Wax tablets were another popular writing surface in ancient Greece. These were small tablets made of wood or ivory covered with a thin layer of wax. The writer would use a stylus to carve their words into the wax, which could then be smoothed over and reused.

Writing Techniques

In addition to different materials, the ancient Greeks also had different techniques for writing.

One technique was called pinakides, which involved scratching letters onto small wooden boards using a stylus. These boards were then coated with ink or pigment to make the letters stand out.

Another technique was chirography, which involved writing with ink on parchment or papyrus using a reed pen. Ink was typically made from soot mixed with water and gum arabic, which acted as a binder.

The Importance of Writing

Writing was critical to the ancient Greeks. It allowed them to record their history, philosophy, and literature for future generations. It also helped them keep track of important business transactions and legal documents.

Without writing, much of what we know about ancient Greece would be lost to time. Fortunately, their use of durable materials and careful writing techniques ensured that many important texts survived to this day.


In conclusion, the ancient Greeks used a variety of materials and techniques for writing. Papyrus, parchment, and wax tablets were all used as writing surfaces, while pinakides and chirography were two common techniques for actually writing the words. Writing was crucial to their culture and allowed them to record their history, literature, and philosophy for future generations.