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Today, we thought it would be fun to explore the rich history of Notary Publics and trace the roots back to Ancient Times. I hope you enjoy the following fascinating Notary Blog post. For a wide-ranging host of Notary blog topics, please visit our free notary blog page:


Embarking on a historical journey, today we explore the long-held traditions of notarization, a practice deeply embedded in the roots of human civilization. In this exploration, we delve into the origins of notarization and traverse the landscapes of ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, ancient Greece and Rome, and the evolution of notarial roles in medieval Europe.

Ancient Notarial Practices in Mesopotamia and Egypt:

Clay Tablets and Scribes in Mesopotamia

In the cradle of civilization, Mesopotamia, notarization took tangible form through the use of clay tablets. Scribes, wielding the power of cuneiform script, meticulously recorded significant transactions and agreements. These early notarial practices aimed to provide an enduring record, setting the stage for the meticulous documentation that modern notaries uphold today.

Papyrus Scrolls and Hieroglyphics in Egypt

Moving to the banks of the Nile, ancient Egypt boasted a sophisticated notarial system. Scribes, armed with papyrus scrolls and hieroglyphics, documented legal transactions, emphasizing the importance of written records. The use of seals, a hallmark of notarial practices, can be traced back to this era, signifying the authenticity of documents and adding an extra layer of security. These early notary seals were often unique to individuals or institutions, establishing a link between the document and its legitimate origin.

Notaries in Ancient Greece and Rome:

The Athenian Agora and the Role of Notaries

In Ancient Greece, the agora served as a hub for civic activities, including notarial functions. Notaries, often affiliated with governmental bodies, authenticated legal documents, instilling a sense of credibility into transactions. The use of wax seals emerged during this period, becoming a symbol of authority and integrity. The notary seal, typically engraved with symbols or initials, represented the notary’s credibility and authority, providing a visual assurance of the document’s authenticity.

Roman Tabelliones and Legal Documentation

Rome, known for its legal advancements, introduced tabelliones – individuals appointed to document legal proceedings. These early notaries played a crucial role in drafting wills, contracts, and other legal instruments. The Roman notarial system laid the groundwork for the notarial roles seen in various cultures throughout history. For the very best, state-approved notary seals, please visit Anchor Stamp:

Evolution of Notarial Roles in Medieval Europe:

Ecclesiastical Notaries and the Preservation of Knowledge

As Europe entered the medieval era, the Church played a significant role in notarial practices. Ecclesiastical notaries were tasked with recording and authenticating various documents, contributing to the preservation of knowledge. Manuscripts, adorned with ornate seals, became a hallmark of notarial deeds during this period. Over time, the practice of using notary embossers evolved and persisted through medieval Europe. The development of the notarial seal continues to be a vital component in notarial duties today.

Guilds and the Professionalization of Notaries

The medieval guild system witnessed the professionalization of notaries. Guilds regulated the activities of notaries, ensuring a certain standard of expertise. During this time, notaries expanded their roles to include attestations, further solidifying their importance in legal transactions.


In conclusion, the origins of notarization are deeply rooted in the annals of human history. From the clay tablets of Mesopotamia to the guilds of medieval Europe, the evolution of notarial practices has been a captivating journey. Today, notaries continue to uphold the tradition of authentication, drawing inspiration from the rich tapestry of early notarial roles.

By understanding the historical context of notarization, modern notaries can appreciate the significance of their roles and contribute to the legacy of this time-honored profession. As we navigate through the complexities of the past, the role of notaries remains a beacon of trust, ensuring the authenticity and legality of important documents in the present day.

About the Author: Thomas McTague is the owner of Anchor Rubber Stamp Co. Inc. and with 30 years of experience in the Notary Industry.