Top 10 Discoveries of 2018: Clay Tablet with Homer’s Verses

The clay tablet with Homer's verses. Photo published by ANA.

ATHENS – A clay tablet inscribed with 13 verses of Homer’s “Odyssey” found at Ancient Olympia in July made the list of the Top 10 Discoveries of 2018 of the current issue of Archaeology, the magazine of the Archaeological Institute of America.

According to preliminary assessments, the tablet belongs to the Roman era, possibly earlier than the 3rd century AD, and was found with other Roman-era remains near the Sanctuary of Ancient Olympia during a surface survey.

The clay piece appears to be the oldest surviving excerpt of Book 14 of the Odyssey, verses 1-8 and 9-13, according to an announcement after its discovery in July 2018. The excavating team had said at the time that “as far as we know, it is the first example of a clay tablet containing an excerpt of the Odyssey, and experts are researching whether this is the oldest sample of Homer’s epic poems to have been found on Greek territory (with the exception of pottery shards containing one or two verses).”

The tablet was found during a geoarchaeological survey conducted around the sanctuary under the supervision of Dr. Erofili-Iris Kollia, director of the Ilia Prefecture Ephorate of Antiquities, with the collaboration of the German Archaeological Institute and three German universities.

Archaeology magazine also cites among its Top 10 for 2018 discoveries the wreck of a 2,400-year-old Greek commercial ship found in the seabed of the Black Sea, considered the oldest undisturbed shipwreck in the world, and the astounding frescoes found in Pompeii in 2018 during the first large-scale excavations at a section of the famous site.