A clay tablet from ancient Sumer tells quite a story. It is rare that records that old have any name attached to them, and when they do, it’s usually royalty. Common people doing common work came and went, leaving no trace of who they were. But Kushim kept track of the barley trade in the city of Uruk, and he put his name on the receipts for shipments, signing them “administrator Kushim.” That in itself makes the tablet, dated between 3,400 and 3,000 BC, an important artifact. But once translated, it shows that Kushim wasn’t much of an accountant. The barley tallied on the front of the tablet should equal 3,910 bowls (a unit a bit bigger than a gallon). But the total Kushim etched on the back is 3,895 bowls.
Kushim was 15 bowls short. This could be a math error, indicating that he might have been in the wrong job. Or it could mean he was skimming some of the barley for himself. Either way, it’s not the only math discrepancy in the ancient tablet, which you can read about at Historic Mysteries. One has to wonder if Kushim would have done anything different if he knew his work would be examined 5,000 years later. -via Strange Company
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