Illustration for article titled Workers in This Ancient Mesopotamian City Got Paid in the Best Currency, Which Is Beer

Fun fact from five millennia ago: The British Museum owns a tablet covered in cuneiform that’s essentially a Mesopotamian paystub—maybe the world’s oldest—and it shows that some dude in ancient Mesopotamia got paid in beer.



That’s according to Ars Technica, picking up a report from the New Scientist, which explains:

About 5000 years ago, the people living in the city of Uruk, in modern day Iraq, wrote in a picture language called cuneiform. On one tablet excavated from the area we can see a human head eating from a bowl, meaning “ration”, and a conical vessel, meaning “beer”. Scattered around are scratches recording the amount of beer for a particular worker. It’s the world’s oldest known payslip, implying that the concept of worker and employer was familiar five millennia ago.


Not so different from some startups today!

Ars Technica notes that, “In the ancient world, beer was a hearty, starchy brew that could double as a meal.” What do you mean, “In the ancient world”?

Photos via Getty.


Senior Editor, Attic Haunter, Jezebel

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