Huge Discovery of 18,000 ‘Notepads’ Documents Daily Life in Ancient Egypt

Archaeologists have uncovered the biggest assortment of historical Egyptian ‘notepads’ uncovered considering that the beginning of the 20th century.

In the long-dropped metropolis of Athribis, in central Egypt, researchers have cataloged a lot more than 18,000 inscribed items of pottery, some of which feel to have been written by pupils.


The shards of inked pottery are known as ‘ostraca’. Considerably less expensive and a lot more accessible than papyrus, remnants of damaged jars and other vessels were made use of in ancient Egypt on a everyday basis to detail browsing lists, record trades, copy literature and train students how to publish and draw.

In simple fact, a significant range of the ostraca discovered at the Athribis archaeological website seem to be remnants of an historical school.

“There are lists of months, numbers, arithmetic challenges, grammar workouts and a ‘bird alphabet’ – just about every letter was assigned a bird whose title began with that letter,” states Egyptologist Christian Leitz from the University of Tübingen in Germany.

csm 22 01 31 Tonscherben 06 2815ab9147A sacred text in hieroglyphics probably copied by a student. (Athribis-Venture Tübingen)

Extra than a hundred of the ostraca observed at Athribis are protected in repetitive composing workouts, with the exact same characters prepared more than and above and in excess of again, on the front and the again.

Even as significantly again as two thousand a long time in the past, it looks ‘naughty’ young children have been becoming disciplined with the vintage Bart Simpson punishment.

csm 22 01 31 Tonscherben 04 2b898f9b2cLine producing from historical Egypt. (Athribis-Venture Tübingen)

Most of the notes uncovered are written in Demotic, which was an administrative script utilized throughout the reign of Ptolemy XII (superior identified currently as the father of Cleopatra), who ruled from 81 to 59 BCE and all over again afterwards from 55 to 51 BCE. 

During this time, the town of Athribis was the capital of an Egyptian point out, situated along the Nile River. But even however Demotic was evidently the more popular script of this time, a simplified form of hieroglyphics was nonetheless becoming taught to young children.

The fragment down below, for instance, is a school text of the Hieratic alphabet, with every letter accompanied by a corresponding hen.

csm 22 01 31 Tonscherben 05 d6d01de226A university textual content with a chicken alphabet in Hieratic. (Athribis-Venture Tübingen)

The many languages noticed on the ostraca at Athribis, together with hieroglyphics, Greek, Arabic and Coptic, trace at the city’s tumultuous and multicultural historical past. The Coptic alphabet, for occasion, is a blend of Greek and Egyptian languages and is intently related with Christianity.

The script below is a Coptic receipt, possibly written in the 6th century right after Egypt experienced fallen into Roman hands.

csm 22 01 31 Tonscherben 02 9248e9639f(Athribis-Job Tübingen)

With the increase of Christian religion, scripts about historical Egyptian gods started to tumble out of favor. Below, for instance, is an illustration of a baboon and an ibis, which are sacred animals of Thoth, the historic Egyptian god of knowledge.

csm 22 01 31 Tonscherben 07 e3d91988d0 1The sacred animals of the historical Egyptian god of knowledge, Thoth. (Athribis-Job Tübingen)

Other folks signs of Roman influence can also be gleaned from the shards of pottery. Just after the Ptolemaic program fell in the 1st century CE, for case in point, the texts get started to reference a string of Roman emperors, including Nero, Vespasian, Titus, Domitian and even Hadrian, who ruled amongst 117 to 138 CE.

Only the moment in advance of has these types of a large selection of ostraca been identified. In the early 1900s, archaeologists uncovered numerous shards of writing at the historic village of Deir el-Medina, a bit even more down the Nile River. 

These ancient texts, on the other hand, were being generally notes about medicine and medical procedures. The ostraca of Athribis, on the other hand, can notify us a lot more about what day-to-day lifetime was like in one particular of the most highly effective civilizations of the ancient world.