Byzantine iPad Unveiled

9th-century notebook and tool in one

OutsideOnline archaeology dig site Turkey Turkish Byzantine iPad tablet device inbred app user captain merchant ship shipwreck unearthed unveiled uncovered archaeologists Istanbul Theodosius Port harbor Yenikapi Shipwrecks Project Ufuk Kocabas

Artifacts from the dig site at Theodosius Port.     Photo: Mavi Boncuk/ICOM-CC WOAM

Are you a first-gen freak? Here's a throwback: A Byzantine-generation tablet was unearthed from a dig site off the coast of Istanbul yesterday. Archaeologists working in the Theodosius Port, a center of excavation work in Turkey, unveiled the 1,200-year-old wooden box from one of 37 ships buried in the Yenikapi area. The discovery was dubbed the "Byzantine iPad" for the device's ninth-century integration of notebook and tool in one.

The Byzantine tablet (about the same length as modern seven-inch iterations) hid an "app"—sliding back the top panels reveals a hand-carved "screen" in the bottom panel.

Each panel has four holes, probably to bind them together with leather straps for portability on the open sea. Ufuk Kocabas, director of the Yenikapi Shipwrecks Project, says that the merchant ship's captain probably used it to assess the value of precious metals.

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