A recent discovery has raised the interest of most people after a team of archeologists have found ancient Roman tablets with random scratches. However, these planks of wood seem to be one of the oldest handwritten documents in the history of Britain. Plus they also make reference to ‘London.’
Over four hundred ancient writing tablets were found during the excavation of a London building site. Later, the Museum of London Archeology published them. The construction phase brought to light a real Roman relics treasure, despite the fact that the central London site is scheduled to become the European headquarters of Bloomberg.
Besides the 400 Roman tablets, archeologists discovered evidence of over 15,000 other artifacts and 50 Roman buildings at the site. Furthermore, among the tablets was found a financial document from January 8, 57 B.C. and it is the earliest handwritten text from the history of UK.
The earliest reference to London is related to another tablet on which was written the address ‘Londinio Mogontio’ which means ‘In London, to Mogontius.’ This text dates between 65 B.C. and 80 B.C. and archeologists think that it is the first historical reference to London.
In addition to this, the names of around 100 people, brewers, judges, and slaves included, were found among the tablets, providing historians with a new perspective on typical day-to-day workings of Roman London.
What makes this event all the more important is that only 19 legible Roman tablets had been previously found. The writing ledgers seem like thin tiles, having a sunken area in the wood and containing beeswax so that people could write on them.
In time, the wax disintegrated, but the indentation of people’s handwriting has remained on the wood. Fortunately, oxygen was prevented from eroding the tablets thanks to the fact that they were encased in wet mud coming from the former Walbrook river.
Nevertheless, decoding proved to be a very demanding and challenging task because the tablets were often reused, having many layers of written names indented in the wood. According to Dr. Roger Tomlin, an expert in Latin cursive writing and lecturer in Roman history at Oxford University, the text could only be deciphered thanks to a mixture of photography, based on microscopic analysis and light technology.
Over 700 artifacts, including the Roman tablets, will go on display in 2017 at the new Bloomberg building. All in all, it is surprising that there is still evidence on how Romans contributed to the foundation of London.