Skip to content

New Discoveries Reveal How Ancient Egyptians Lived

Archaeologists have uncovered over 18,000 pieces of pottery inscribed with details of life in ancient Egypt — including lines written as punishment by badly behaved students. The 2,000-year-old fragments also included receipts, school texts, trade information and lists of names, according to researchers at Germany’s University of Tübingen, which carried out the excavation. The discoveries were made at the site of Athribis, an ancient settlement built around 200 kilometers north of Luxor. Marked with ink using reeds or hollowed sticks, the recovered pottery pieces, known as “ostraca,” are the remains of jars or vessels that were used as writing materials. Around four-fifths of the fragments were inscribed with Demotic, one of the three ancient scripts featured on the Rosetta Stone. Greek, Arabic and Egyptian hieroglyphics were among the other scripts found on the ostraca. Many of the pottery pieces originated from an ancient school, according to the University of Tübingen Professor Christian Leitz, who led the excavations alongside a team from Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. “There are lists of months, numbers, arithmetic problems, grammar exercises and a ‘bird alphabet’ — each letter was assigned a bird whose name began with that letter,” Leitz said in a press release.