Science & Tech

Bizarre sick day excuse discovered on ancient pyramid tablet

Bizarre sick day excuse discovered on ancient pyramid tablet
Archeologists Use Satellite Imagery to Finally Solve a Great Mystery Surrounding the …
ZMG - Amaze Lab / VideoElephant

It turns out calling in sick is a tradition almost as old as time itself – thankfully, though, some of the excuses used today are a lot better than they used to be.

A bizarre excuse for a worker taking a sick day has been discovered written down on an ancient pyramid tablet.

In a fascinating insight into working conditions in ancient times, a tablet in the possession of the British Museum contains details about workers constructing the pyramids.

The limestone ostracon dates way back to 1250BCE and lists a number of reasons why labourers called in unable to work. It was uncovered among many others in the tomb builder’s village of Deir el-Medina, located on the west bank of the Nile.

The date listed on the tablet is “month four of Winter, day 24” and it saw an increasingly unexpected number of reasons listed.

The first is still pretty common today, with a worker named Pennub missing work because his mother was ill.

The British Museum

The next was Serba, who was unable to work because he was bitten by a scorpion.

The most bizarre reason, though, comes from a number of people who missed work because they were ‘brewing beer’ – which might be the best excuse we’ve ever heard.

It was far more common than you might expect, though, and beer was very important to the workforce at the time.

The British Museum explain: “In ancient Egypt, beer was so essential it was treated principally as a type of food – it was consumed daily and in great quantities at religious festivals and celebrations.

"Beer was an essential for labourers, like those who built the pyramids of Giza, who were provided with a daily ration of 1⅓ gallons (over 10 pints). Yet it still had divine status, with several gods and goddesses associated with beer."

So, beer was crucial to the pyramids being built – cheers to that!

It comes as a landmark discovery on an ancient branch of the River Nile may have solved the mystery of how the pyramids in Egypt were built centuries ago.

The now dried-out waterway, which once ran through Giza might have been used to transport the materials that were used to construct the pyramids.

Sign up for our free indy100 weekly newsletter

How to join the indy100's free WhatsApp channel

Have your say in our news democracy. Click the upvote icon at the top of the page to help raise this article through the indy100 rankings

The Conversation (0)