ATHENS – A team of archaeologists working in Greece have discovered an ancient tablet believed to have the oldest excerpt of Homer’s “Odyssey” carved into it, the country’s culture ministry announced on Tuesday.
After three years of digging at a site in Olympia, where the Olympic Games were held in classical times, archaeologists have unveiled a clay tablet engraved with 13 verses from the “Odyssey” that is believed to date back to before 300 AD.
“If the preliminary dating is confirmed in an investigation, which has already begun, the clay slab will perhaps preserve the oldest written extract of the Homeric epic,” said the ministry in a statement, adding that this was a “great archaeological, epigraphic, literary and historical finding.”
The “Odyssey,” a Greek epic poem believed to be one of the oldest existing works of Western literature, tells the tale of the hero Odysseus and his 10-year journey to return home to Ithaca after the Trojan War.
The tablet contains lines from a speech Odysseus, who is dressed as a beggar, gives to the swineherd Eumaeus, the first mortal he speaks to on Ithaca upon his return.