2,000 year old documents found in London dig
2,000 year old documents found in London dig

2,000 year old documents found in London dig (Photo)

Excavation works in the City of London has discovered the earliest hand written 2,000 year old documents ever found in Britain.

The tablets were discovered under an office block built in the 1950s that was being renovated for the future European headquarters of Bloomberg.

Scribes used a metal stylus to write out their messages in wax that once covered the tablets. While the wax wasn’t preserved, the stylus made markings in the underlying wood that survived. In total, archeologists uncovered 405 tablets that were preserved around the lost and buried Walbrook River. Excavators said wet mud likely preserved the wooden tablets.

“They give us a glimpse into a carpet-bagging community in the new wild west frontier of the Roman empire,” Roger Tomlin, the early Roman writing who spent a year poring over tablets, told The Guardian.

The Early Years of London

According to the Museum of London Archaeology, which will be displaying the items in 2017, the tablets give details on the early years of London “in the words of the people who lived, worked, traded with and administered the new city.”

One particular tablet was addressed “Londinio Mogontio,” or, to Mogontius in London. It is considered to be the earliest know reference to the modern British capital and was dated to 43 AD by the timbers and coins found in the same archeological strata. The date is about 50 years earlier than when Roman historian Tacitus used the same name in his documents.

Another found tablet is a financial document describing a debt between two freed slaves:

“In the consulship of Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus for the second time and of Lucius Calpurnius Piso, on the 6th day before the Ides of January (January 8, 57).I, Tibullus the freedman of Venustus, have written and say that I owe Gratus the freedman of Spurius 105 denarii from the price of the merchandise which has been sold and delivered. This money I am due to repay him or the person whom the matter will concern…”

Just 19 readable tablets had been discovered across London before this archeological treasure trove. The find includes the names of almost 100 individuals.


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