Archaeologists in Greece have discovered what they believe to be the oldest written evidence of Homer’s epic poem “The Odyssey” ever found in the country.
Officials from the Greek Ministry of Culture released a photo of the clay tablet, which researchers found Tuesday during a dig at Ancient Olympia in the western part of the Peloponnese peninsula.
A team of Greek and German scientists were examining an engraved clay plaque near the ruined Temple of Zeus when they discovered the tablet.
The slab holds 13 verses from the Odyssey’s 14th Rhapsody in which Odysseus, the story’s hero, addresses his lifelong friend Eumaeus.
Greece’s culture ministry officials said in a statement that the tablet likely dates to the Roman era — probably before the 3rd century AD.
They also said that the the exact date has yet to be confirmed, but referred to the discovery as a “great archaeological, epigraphic, literary and historical exhibit.”
“The Odyssey” consists of 12,109 lines of poetry that many historians attribute to Homer, a legendary ancient Greek poet.
The literary work centers around the story of Odysseus of Ithaca, the king who wanders for 10 years in an effort to return home after the collapse of Troy.
After the “Iliad,” it is the second major poem scholars attribute to Homer, with writing dating back to approximately 675-725 BCE. It is also widely thought to be one of the greatest literary works in world history.
CORRECTION: The lead sentence originally did not include “ever found in the country” at the end. This has been added in to clarify that the discovery is not the oldest existing written piece of “The Odyssey,” but rather the oldest that has ever been found in Greece.
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