"Latin Rustic probably began its career as a rationalized version of official and popular writing, fused with a loosening version of the Square Capitals, the whole written with a pen cut specially for speed. It secured a measure of public approval in Rome during or before the first century B.C., though the evidence is slight" (Morison, Politics and Script . . . Barker ed.  43; see also 41-43, and pl. 34.)
Twenty-three papyrus fragments of the poem Carmen de Bello Actiaco preserved in Naples at the Biblioteca Nazionale and in Paris at the Louvre represent the earliest surviving dated examples of rustic capitals. They were written in Italy between 31 BCE, the date of the battle of Actium, and 79 CE, when Herculaneum was destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius. Buried in lava, they were discovered during excavations of Herculaneum in 1752. The papyrus roll was unrolled in 1805, and drawings of the fragments were made by various scholars. The first photographs of any of the fragments were published by Lowe, Codices Latini Antiquiores III (1938) 385.