Wednesday, March 30, 2011

UMSL archeologists discover continental Europe's earliest-known written record

ST. LOUIS, MO (ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO) - Archeologists from the University of Missouri-St. Louis have discovered continental Europe's earliest known written record. 

The clay tablet fragment may date back to as early as 1490 B.C. -- more than a hundred-and-fifty years before any other known writings from mainland Europe.

UMSL archeologist Michael Cosmopoulos led the excavation that unearthed the tablet from a site in southwestern Greece.

“The tablets are accounting records, state accounting records, and they're the products of bureaucracy. So basically the Greeks of the period invented writing because of the bureaucratic needs of their states,” Cosmopoulos said.

Cosmopoulos says the tablet adds to evidence that the site was probably one of the nine state capitals of King Nestor, one of the most famous kings to fight in the Trojan War.

Cosmopoulos says the fragment has a word related to manufacturing on one side, and a list of male names with numbers on the other.

He says it's most likely part of a state government accounting record, possibly a tax record.

“So the fact that we have state records at such an early date and at a new site, suggests that bureaucracy and literacy developed earlier and were more widespread than what we had thought until now,” Cosmopoulos sayd.

The clay tablet dates back to about 1400 B.C. and is at least a hundred years older than any other known written record from continental Europe.

Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

Photo: The back of the 2x3 inch tablet that was discovered in Iklaina, Greece. (Christian Mundigler) 


Post a Comment