Ancient Egyptian tablet is an "attendance sheet" listing excuses for missing work

Plus their carving names from monuments so they can literally play the “Never heard of her,” game.


I remember a hearing about a bit of Mesopotamian writing, from a clay tablet (a lot more accessible a writing system than carving in to stone), where a scribe wrote about his school days. Part of it went something like this…

“My teacher was angry that I was slow to learn. Stick/Flesh. Stick/Flesh. Stick/Flesh. When I got home, my dad wanted to know why I was bruised. I told him that my teacher was angry that I was slow to learn. My dad was angry that I was slow to learn. Stick/Flesh. Stick/Flesh. Stick/Flesh.”


“What was the name of that guy who got sentenced to damnatio memoriae…?”


Judging from a cross section of unfiltered social media, I think that’s for the best.


“My son has a vision problem. He can’t see himself coming to work today.”
– Huynefer’s Mother

I’ve been telling this joke for a while, and now I can say that it came from an ancient Egyptian book of work excuses.


27 people killed by their teeth probably means dental abscesses and infections of the gum and jaw. Which is a horrible way to go. An imposthume was also a type of puss-filled abscess, presumably somewhere other than the mouth.

And for all the joking about dying by “winde” or “Griping in the Guts”, or “Stopping of the Stomach”, note that this is as opposed to “flux”, which would describe the usual symptoms of dysentery or cholera. These would be death by constipation, and I wouldn’t be surprised if cancer was involved in many of them.

Tissick was a breathing problem, probably asthma, or a pneumonic tuberculosis which wasn’t immediately obvious as Consumption.

There were four levels of infant mortality noted: miscarriage (“abortive”), stillbirth, chrisom (within the first month or so), and infant.


One time a jackal ate my homework; it was written on papyrus.


I get that you’re joking, but the period we’re living in is an absolute golden age for recording the writings of women, people of color, middling and lower class folks, and the millions and millions who never had a voice.


Jimmy Fallon Agree GIF

The most vile stuff (put out mostly by right wingers) is what is getting the most attention when we talk about social media, and all the pockets of discourse by people who are usually not heard are often getting ignored.


Very true. At the same time the death of a “Mommy Blogger” made front page news across the nation. Right-wingers are getting amplified, and unfortunately many of them are part of the unheard masses whose voice would have been ignored. The bad goes with the good. The nice thing about this medium is that everyone can be preserved.


That’s probably where I have a bit of a quibble… As long as people running the servers on social media deem it important enough to preserve, then it will be. But they can just pull the plug, and whatever was there can just be gone… I don’t think that preservation is any less complicated and intentional in the digital world than it is in the physical. You still need people making the choice to save this stuff, and archive it… I don’t think the social media companies are doing that with regards to most social media. The task before groups like the Internet Archive is fairly daunting, and they’re dealing with arguable dicey copyright issues (who owns a tweet)… And now that is under some attack with regards to scanning and sharing books.

Depending on the choices people make, much of this wealth of information could just… vanish. I don’t trust people like Elon Musk to make good choices about total preservation vs. selective preservation.


Very true. On top of what Musk-ovites decide to preserve, anyone else can also preserve almost anything on social media. The Wayback Machine is a great example.

Perfect? No. Many parsecs better than in the past? Absolutely.


One of the oldest things I have read from just an ordinary person was from Egypt, though I think in Hellenistic times. A surviving letter from a woman to her husband, who was away at some religious festival that got extended. Except…she ran into his friend who had come back and he said they wrapped things up a week ago. So, um, where the hell are you.

Busted for all time!


Maybe, but it’s a lot of information, and still needs a more structured approach to preservation that I’m not sure is actually happening.


And now we know where the plot of Sons of the Desert came from.

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True, except that much of it is on media that won’t be kept in any type of usable format.
Cell phone photos, text chats, online whatevers. One day it will all be gone.

(At this point, I realize I haven’t read all the responses and that milliefink, Mindysan33, or someone has probably said this already. Off to check.)



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There’s an interesting story in one of Clifford Stoll’s books, I think Silicon Snake Oil. It concerns a computer engineer who buys a second hand server which was taken offline several years earlier. WHen he boots it up, he finds the sendmail buffer is still full of messages which never got forwarded because whoever decommissioned the mahine just unplgged it suddenly. So he sends them on, and in result some people got emails they had been sent years before.


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