18,000 Ancient Egyptian “Notepads” Discovered

Archaeologists have uncovered 18,000 “notepads” in the ancient Egyptian town of Athribis. Known as “ostraca,” the inscribed pottery fragments provide insight into life in Egypt some 2,000 years ago—with everything from shopping lists to trade records and schoolwork marked onto the remnants. Some of them had repeated phrases, believed to be student punishment. “Around 80% of the ostraca are written in demotic, an administrative script used during the reign of Cleopatra’s father, Ptolemy XII (81 to 59 BCE and 55 to 51 BCE,” Jane Recker writes for Smithsonian Magazine. “Greek is the second-most represented script; hieratic, hieroglyphics, Greek, Arabic, and Coptic (an Egyptian dialect written in the Greek alphabet) also appear, testifying to Athribis’ multicultural history.” This fascinating treasure trove—the second largest collection of ostraca ever found in Egypt—will take years to analyze and will undoubtedly reveal plenty about ancient life in Athribis. Read more at Smithsonian Magazine.

Image courtesy of University of Tübingen