E-Squared Magazine
Art + Science | Culture

Wednesday, March 1st, 2023

The Egyptian Ostraca & Taxes

Being that it is tax season, have you ever heard of ostraca?

Ostraca, also known as potsherds, are simply broken pieces of pottery that were used in recordkeeping. Limestone flakes and other thin stones were also commonly used.

What kinds of records were kept? Stories, letters, prescriptions, student exercises, receipts, and…debts. Yes, just like a modern-day bank ledger.

The first known system of taxation was in Ancient Egypt around 3000–2800 BC, and records indicate that the Pharaoh would conduct biennial tours of the kingdom, collecting tithes and recorded debts.

📸  of ostraca by Xocolatl