2010 - Bloomberg tablets

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Bloomberg tablets
Type 1 Archeology
Type 2 Forgery
Type 3 Myth creation
Years 2010+
Place City of London
Perps Bloomberg family
Podcasts none yet!
Mainstream [M 1][M 2][M 3][M 4][M 5]

The Bloomberg tablets is a series of 405 allegedly Roman Empire-time wooden tablets found in the Bloomberg estate area of the City of London, owned by the Vatican. According to the narrative, they were used to pour in wax to write messages so that the wood could be re-used.

Allegedly 90 of the tablets have been translated, more than any other Roman object in Britain, surpassing the previous record holder with 19.


  • strange history; 1950s excavations "incomplete"? With the construction of a 14 story building nothing was discovered?
  • numerology all over
  • Bloomberg, hmmm
  • Vatican City of London, hmmmmmm
  • 'earliest reference to London', hmmm
  • 'first decade of Roman occupation', hmmm
  • financial information dating to 8 January (=9) 57 AD, hmmmm
  • other information dating to 21 October (=11; October = 8th month) 62 AD, hmmmm
  • tablets do not look like 2000 years in an "underground river", they look like what I can (re)create from Home Depot wood...
  • text allegedly proving Roman occupation of Londonium thus reinforcing the Roman ownership myth
  • Vindolanda tablets also look dubious
  • Wikipedia article is unmaintained, no scientific analysis found thus far


"The Bloomberg tablets are a collection of 405 preserved wooden tablets that were found at the site of the Bloomberg building in the financial district of London. Excavations of the site took place between 2010 and 2013, after which the current Bloomberg building was constructed on the site of the archaeological dig.

The tablets are the earliest written documents found in Britain, dating from 50 to 80 AD in the early Roman period. Notably, these tablets predate the Vindolanda tablets, which were previously the earliest writing examples found in Britain, dating to 100 AD or later.


The Bloomberg site consists of three acres in what was the Roman city of Londinium. The archaeological site had previously yielded a 3rd-century Temple of Mithras, which was partially excavated in the 1950s, but this effort was incomplete, and Bucklersbury House, a 14-storey modernist office block, was built atop the site in 1953. However, the demolition of the Bucklersbury building in 2010 gave archaeologists a chance to reopen the dig. Between 2010 and 2013, a multitude of artefacts were discovered at the site, including the Bloomberg tablets, discovered buried 40 feet underground.

The Bloomberg tablets were an unexpected find, as organic material such as wood and leather tends to rot away and disintegrate with time. The tablets were preserved by the thick, wet mud generated by the underground river Walbrook, which limited the exposure of the tablets to oxygen.[better source needed] (this is a DailyFail article, no scientific publication found so far)[4]


The tablets were originally made of wood and wax, though only the wood was preserved and recoverable. A typical tablet would have been made of a thin piece of wood, 15–25 cm wide, with a rectangular depression carved into the centre. Warm beeswax, blackened by the addition of atramentum, would then be poured into the centre depression and allowed to cool. Once the wax had set, a metal stylus would be used to scratch letters into the wax, showing a lighter colour against the darker wax.

These wax tablets could also be recycled, in that the tablet could be heated (to approximately 50 °C), allowing the wax to soften and reform a smooth writing surface. The tablets were likely made from wood recycled from barrel staves, and often were made in diptych style, where two tablets were loosely linked and could fold together to close, like a book with only two pages, protecting the soft wax on the inside.


Although the wax from the tablets was not preserved, small scratches left on the surface of the wooden tablets allowed for a recreation of the original writing content. These scratches, though perhaps not identifiable with the naked eye, can be visualised and digitally recreated with the assistance of technology. To make the digital recreation of the writing, photographs were taken using different angles of light and thus casting different shadows upon the tablet surface. Once compiled, these pictures gave a precise view of the surface contours of the tablets, the impressions made in the wood, and thus a look at what was written on the tablet. However, since these tablets were made to be reusable, several overlapping messages may be present on the tablets, making it even more difficult to separate and translate the many messages.


Ninety of the Bloomberg tablets have been translated. This is the highest number of translated artefacts from any archaeological site in London, surpassing the previous record of 19. The tablets were translated by Dr. Roger Tomlin, an expert in Roman cursive, the writing style in which the tablets were written.

Tablets vary in content, including the oldest financial document from the city of London (dating to 8 January 57 AD), legal documents including a judge calling a pretrial hearing, and educational material. One tablet shows the alphabet written out, indicating the presence of perhaps the first school in Britain. Additionally, among the tablets there are over 100 names of people of all different professions and social classes who lived in London at the time, such as slaves, merchants, soldiers, and politicians. One prominent figure that is named is Julius Classicus, who was a commander in the Roman auxiliaries. One tablet contains the first mention of the name of the city of London, more than a half a century earlier than what was previously thought to be the first naming of London in Tacitus's Annals.


Although current technology and methods have allowed for recreation and translation of a number of the tablets, the vast majority of them remain as-of-yet unreadable. Thus, to keep these tablets in prime shape for future analysis, efforts are being made to keep these artefacts preserved. Preservation included a combination of immersion in polyethylene glycol (PEG) and freeze drying.


While some of the tablets are being preserved for future study, a number of them will be displayed in a museum exhibit entitled “London Mithraeum” located on the first two floors of the Bloomberg European Headquarters, once the building construction is completed (completion date set as autumn 2017).[needs update]"

"Highlights from the Bloomberg writing tablet collection include:

The earliest dated hand-written document known from Britain, a financial document of 8 January AD 57 [????];

  • A tablet archaeologically dated [??] to AD 43-53, the first decade of Roman rule in Britain;
  • The earliest reference to London, dated to AD 65-80;
  • Evidence of someone practicing writing the alphabet and numerals, perhaps the first evidence for a school in Britain;
  • New evidence for Julius Classicus, a figure later known to history as a leader of the Batavian revolt, revealed to be the prefect of the Sixth Cohort of * Nervians in the first decades of Roman London;
  • A contract from 21 October AD 62 to bring ‘twenty loads of provisions’ from Verulamium to London by 13 November, a year after the Boudican Revolt, the tablet reveals precious details of the rapid recovery of Roman London;
  • The names of nearly 100 people, from a cooper, brewer and judge, to soldiers, slaves and freedmen. The names reveal early London was inhabited by businessmen and soldiers, most likely from Gaul and the Rhineland."

"The Bloomberg London site is bounded by Queen Street, Cannon Street, Queen Victoria Street and Bucklersbury, and Walbrook (Fig 1; Fig 2). It occupies c 1.2ha. The approximate centre of the site is at National Grid reference 532549 181002.

Modern pavement level is at 12.30m OD to the north of the site and at 10.03m OD to the south.

The most recent archaeological work on the site was undertaken between 2005 and 2014 in successive phases of evaluation (in 2005 and 2008 for Legal & General) and then excavation as a preliminary to and during the early stages of its redevelopment as the new European headquarters for Bloomberg LP.

The principal phases of excavation occurred during 2010–14 and involved a MOLA team of over 55 archaeologists.

These, however, were not the first archaeological investigations of the site. It is 'famous (under its previous name of Bucklersbury House) for the unexpected discovery of the Roman Temple of Mithras during excavations in 1952 and 1954–6 on the Second World War blitz site; these investigations were led by Professor W F Grimes, then Director of the London Museum and subsequently Director of the Institute of Archaeology of the University of London."

  • They could find and excavate a whole Roman temple, but they didn't manage to find 405 wooden tablets??

"The construction of the temple dated to c AD 240–50. It was modified several times before being converted for use by the followers of another pagan cult – perhaps that of Bacchus – during the first decades of the 4th century AD and finally falling into disuse towards the end of that century. The 1950s excavations, the discovery of the temple, and the form and history of the building itself are described extensively elsewhere (eg Grimes 1968; Wilmott 1991; Shepherd 1998). Salvage excavations were also undertaken on the site during 1958 by Ivor Noël-Hume of the Guildhall Museum.

Intense public interest in the site led to the remains of the temple of Mithras being dismantled and subsequently reconstructed within a northern forecourt to the Bucklersbury House development in 1962 (Shepherd 1998).

The reconstruction, although faithful to neither the original position nor orientation of the temple, was listed at Grade II by the Secretary of State for Culture in 2007. The Bloomberg LP redevelopment scheme, for which consent was granted in 2012, included provision for the 1962 temple reconstruction to be dismantled and rebuilt as close as possible to where it was found, within a dedicated display and exhibition space incorporated within the Bloomberg building.

The original reason for Professor Grimes’s interest in the site in 1954 had been that it offered an opportunity to investigate archaeologically the valley of the Walbrook stream. Roman London – Londinium – developed on two low gravel hills on the north bank of the Thames which were separated by a valley formed by the Walbrook. London was founded on the eastern of these hills within five years of the invasion of Britain in AD 43 by the Emperor Claudius (AD 41–54). Its focal point was the crossing over the Thames, which connected London’s eastern hill with the south bank, and it is possible that the Walbrook was originally envisaged as forming a western boundary to the settlement.

Given the strategic importance of the Thames crossing, it is likely to have taken the form of a bridge from an early date, probably by c AD 52 (Watson et al 2001, 33). The road running north from the crossing met an important east–west road at a T-junction at the cardinal point of the early town, in front of the site that later became the forum. Though the first forum building is Flavian in date, probably constructed c AD 75 or shortly after (Marsden 1987, 73), it was preceded by a pre-Boudican, open gravelled area which can be presumed to have served as an earlier marketplace (ibid, 16–19, 21–22): this is particularly relevant to catalogued writing tablet <WT30>.

Running west from the town centre, this east–west road bridged the Walbrook immediately north of Bloomberg London (Fig 21) before continuing over the western hill. Leaving London, it formed the main Roman route along the Thames valley to Silchester (Calleva Atrebatum), Hampshire.

The earliest tree-ring date yet recovered from London, a felling date of winter AD 47–8, came from a timber drain laid beneath the earliest metalling of this road recorded at 1 Poultry (Hill and Rowsome 2011, 564).

The settlement grew rapidly and, even before the Boudican revolt of AD 60/1, ribbon development along the main road north of Bloomberg London was extending the occupied footprint westwards, beyond the Walbrook. By the early 2nd century AD the Walbrook valley lay in what had become a central position within the Roman town. The archaeological significance of the valley lies in the nature of the deposits within it that are, with the exception of some waterfront sites, both deeper and more waterlogged than is generally the case in the City of London.

The position of the site, initially on the western periphery of the Roman town but later within its core (Fig 21), combined with the waterlogged nature of the archaeological deposits resulted in outstanding survival of structures and artefacts."

"In the UK news on Wednesday 1 June 2016 were reports of excavations at a major site in London that have uncovered Roman buildings, roads, and large amounts of other material including many letters and other documents. One of these is the earliest letter written in Britain, as far as Roman findings to date establish. Many of these items, which have been found in an archaeological dig at the building site of the Bloomberg headquarters and nearby the site of the Roman London Mithraeum, will be on show on site from October 2017 on. The publicity arose from the publication of a book by Roger Tomlim on the writing tablets that were found during the excavations and which hace been subsequently preserved, transcribed and translated. The documents including letters are on wooden tablets covered in beeswax, and there are over 400 of them, with some 87 having been deciphered to date. The earliest letter, dated to AD 43-53 and shown in the photo, concerns those perennials of money and reputation – “…because they are boasting through the whole market that you have lent them money. Therefore I ask you in your own interest not to appear shabby… you will not thus favour your own affairs….”

See also