A group of archaeologists believe that the first evidence of Roman schooling in Britain has been finally unearthed. Over 400 tablets have been discovered while excavating a site in London, which are considered to be the oldest hand-written documents first-ever found in the United Kingdom.
The tablets, according to The Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA), hold reference to London and serve as evidence of schooling and financial documents from the 57 AD. Of the several tablets from the dig, 700 artifacts will go on display at MOLA when the building opens. A total of 87 tablets have been deciphered thus far, and historians are working on the rest.
One of the tablets, which dates back to AD 65/70-80, reads “Londinio Mogontio”, meaning “In London, to Mogontius.” Researchers believe that the tablet predates Tacitus’ mention of the city in his Annals, which he wrote about 50 years later, states BBC.
Another tablet was found in a layer dating back to AD 43-53 by MOLA and is thought to be from the Roman’s first decade of rule. When the symbols on this tablet were translated, they read, “…because they are boasting through the whole market that you have lent them money. Therefore I ask you in your own interest not to appear shabby…you will not thus favor your own affairs…”
A third tablet shows intriguing demonstration of literacy or letter forms, which possibly hold the first evidence of schooling from the times of the Romans in Britain. Spanning over a period of 30 years in the mid-first century AD, the tablets retrieved from a bed of wet mud chronicle a bustling trading and commercial hub that was born at that time in London.
FT notes that the endearing part is how well preserved the tablets were on the banks of river Thames. Its waters helped keep the slim wooden slices resistant to decay for over nearly two millennia.
“What we actually found completely blew us away.” The discovery produced almost 405 tablets among 15,000 other objects, which is amazing, according to Sophie Jackson, Director at Museum of London Archaeology.