Greek and German archaeologists have made an important discover: a slab of clay inscripted with 13 verses of Homer’s epic poetry the Odyssey. The slab was discovered in the Ancient Olympia, Peloponnese, the Greek Culture Ministry said in a press release. It seems that it is the oldest written form of Homer’s epic poetry to have ever come to light.
“After three years of research in areas around the sanctuary in the archaeological site of Ancient Olympia, archaeologists found themselves in front of a particularly important discovery!” the Ministry said.
A clay slab with an inscription that has been found to preserve 13 verses from rhapsody “ξ” of the Odyssey. The fragment is from Odysseus’ speech to Eumaeus.
In Odyssey, Eumaeus is Odysseus’s swineherd and friend. In Homer’s epic poetry, Eumaeus is the first mortal Odysseus meets after his return to Ithaca.
According to first estimations, the slab can be dated back to Roman times and probably before the 3rd century A.D.
The discovery was made during a surface – geo-archaeological research, within the framework of the three – year research program titled “The Multidimensional Site of Olympia”, which takes place in places around the sanctuary under the direction of Dr. Erophilis-Iris Kolia, Head of the Archaeologic Eforia in Ileia, in collaboration with Professors Franziska Lang, Birgitta Eder, Andreas Vött and Hans-Joachim Gehrke of the German Archaeological Institute and the Universities of Darmstadt, Tübingen and Frankfurt am Mainz.
The piece of clay was found in an area with remains of the Roman times.
Archaeologists point out that the preliminary date estimation is confirmed with the systematic study of the inscription that has already begun. If the date is ultimately confirmed, then the clay plaque preserves the oldest written fragment from the Homeric Epos that has ever come to light.
Beyond its uniqueness, the finding is of great archaeological, epigraphic, literary and historical evidence, the Greek Culture Ministry said in its press release.