Greek Tablet May Shed Light on Early Bureaucratic Practices





An archaeologist digging in the rubble of a distant past counts on the conqueror’s havoc, nature’s upheavals and plain human negligence to have left legacies of unintended value — like a fragment of a clay tablet bearing archaic writing from an early period of state formation in Greece, more than 3,400 years ago.

Had it not been for some inadvertence, the tablet would almost certainly have disintegrated in the rain in a year or two and scattered with the wind as so much illiterate dust. The tablet seems to be a “page” from a bookkeeper’s note pad. Not meant to be saved as a permanent record, it was not baked in a kiln , but ended up in a refuse dump, where a fire hardened the clay for posterity.

The discoverers and other specialists in Greek history said the tablet, one of the oldest known examples of writing in mainland Europe, should cast light on the political structure and bureaucratic practices near the beginning of the renowned Mycenaean period, 1600 to 1100 B.C. At its height, the culture supported the splendor of palaces at Mycenae and Pylos and inspired the heroic legend of the Trojan War, immortalized in Homer’s Iliad....



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