At first glance they appear to be ordinary planks of wood marked with random scratches. But archeologists say they’re some of the oldest handwritten documents ever found in Britain — and they include the first known reference to “London.”
The most fascinating part of the 405 ancient Roman tablets recently unearthed in London is what’s written on them.
More than 400 ancient writing tablets were discovered during the excavation of a London building site, with the findings published Wednesday by the Museum of London Archeology and they include the oldest-ever written reference to the city of London.
The tablets were found almost by accident during an archeological survey to prepare for the construction of Bloomberg’s new headquarters in Europe.
The ancient Roman writing tablet bears the inscription “Londinio Mogontio” — the earliest reference to London. The central London site will soon be home to Bloomberg’s new European headquarters, but the construction phase has revealed a treasure trove of Roman relics.
“I’ve been digging around in London for years and never quite imagined that in the late 1st century, there was a community of people who are very much like us,” Sophie Jackson, the manager of the dig project, told New Scientist. Along with hundreds of writing tablets, archaeologists have also found evidence of more than 50 Roman buildings and 15,000 other artifacts at the site.
The tablets include a financial document dating back to January 8, 57 A.D. — the earliest handwritten text ever found in the UK.