Excavations in London in 2016 uncovered Roman tablets that turn out to be the oldest handwritten document ever found in Britain.
The Museum of Archeology in London (MOLA) has deciphered one of the documents, which is dated January 8, 57 CE. According to the researchers, all the plaques will be an invaluable source of information about the beginnings of the British capital. The plaque contains the first reference to London – 50 years before the famous Tacitus Annales. The document contains the inscription: “Londinio Mogontio”, which can be translated: as “In London, to Mogontius”.
On the plaque, we can read: “During the second consulship of Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus and Lucius Calpurnius Piso, on the 6th before the January Ides (January 8, 57 CE). I, Tibullus the freedman of Venustus, wrote down and said that I owe Gratus the freedman of Spurius 105 denarii due to the goods that have been sold and delivered. I am obliged to repay the money to him or to the person whom this case will concern”.
Archaeologists found several wooden tablets (more than 700 in total), which were covered with blackened beeswax. Although the wax has not survived our times, the words are still visible in the wood. The finds were excavated in the mud of the Walbrook River, which allowed the wood to be preserved in good condition.
After finding the boards, they were placed in water, cleaned and freeze-dried.