Aswan, Upper Egypt, around 450–400 BCE
A single ostracon (a fragment of pottery with writing on it) with text written in Aramaic. Previously broken into three pieces, it was later repaired so it retains an almost complete text. The document concerns the purchase and sale of sheep in exchange for bread and wheat and originates from a Jewish community living in Egypt. The text begins on the concave side and continues on the reverse, where it is more roughly written. The term Aramaic describes a family of languages or dialects belonging to the Northwest Semitic group, and the Aramaic alphabet, widely adopted for other languages, is ancestral to the Hebrew, Syriac and Arabic alphabets. Donated to the Library by Sir Herbert Thompson in 1934.