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2,000-year-old handwritten documents found in London mud

Experts say they found more than 400 wooden tablets during excavations

Image Credit: AFP

Archaeologist Luisa Duarte poses for a picture holding a Roman waxed writing tablet containing the earliest written reference to London, dated AD 65/70-80, which translated reads ‘Londinio Mogontio’ (in London, to Mogontius…), at Bloomberg’s offices in central London. The tablets were found during excavation for financial news agency and data provider Bloomberg’s new European headquarters by the Bank of England.

London: Archaeologists say they have discovered the oldest handwritten document ever found in Britain among hundreds of 2,000-year-old waxed tablets from Roman London.

Museum of London Archaeology experts say they found more than 400 wooden tablets during excavations in London’s financial district for the new headquarters of information company Bloomberg.

So far 87 have been deciphered, including one addressed “in London, to Mogontius” and dated to AD65-80 — the earliest recorded reference to the city, which the Romans called Londinium.

Another is dated January 8, AD57 — Britain’s earliest dated handwritten document.

Archaeologist Sophie Jackson said the find was “hugely significant … It’s the first generation of Londoners speaking to us.”

The tablets were preserved in the wet mud of the Walbrook, then a river, now a buried stream.

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