A Linear B tablet from between 1450 and 1350 B.C.
A clay tablet discovered in a University of Missouri–St. Louis excavation in Greece changes what is known about the origins of literacy and bureaucracy.
Measured at 2 inches by 3 inches, the tablet fragment is thought to be the earliest known written record in Europe – dating back to between 1450 and 1350 B.C.
These pieces are indicative of a major center, potentially an early Mycenaean state capital. [Archeologist Michael] Cosmopoulos is cautious, however, and said that it is too soon to tell whether Iklaina was one or not. Currently, there is only a handful of known major state capitals, such as Pylos and Mycenae.
“Iklaina could potentially challenge what we know about the origins of states in ancient Greece,” Cosmopoulos said. “Not only does it push the origins of those states back in time by at least a century and a half, but the tablet shows that literacy and bureaucracy appeared earlier and were more widespread than what we had thought until now. We still have a lot to learn about the ancient world.”