Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 35 (1998) 145-151 A School Tablet: A List of Names and Numbers (Plates 21-22) This wooden tablet at the University of Michigan-T.Mich. inv. 764-was published in 1921 by A. E. R. Boak, who thought that what he called the recto of the tablet contained an exercise practicing letters of the alphabet in random order, while the verso presented cardinal numbers from 1 to 9,000.1 Both sides of the tablet need to be reexamined. The tablet has two binding holes bored into one of the long borders. It was either part of a notebook of tablets or a single tablet: holes and strings might serve to hang it on the wall or to suspend it from the hand. About the content of the recto Boak wrote, "the writing consists of twenty lines... each line contains a number of isolated letters, not grouped in syllables or words... the work of a beginner practicing the forms of the letters." But an exercise of the kind Boak describes does not appear anywhere else. Exercises involving the letters of the alphabet usually consist of a few letters repeated or a few letters practiced randomly on the writing surface,2 without following regular and even lines. When the letters are in continuous horizontal lines, they always follow an alphabetical order and consist of a series of alphabets written one after the other.3 An examination of the photo, and especially an autoptic inspection of the Michigan tablet itself, confirmed that the exercise consisted of a list of names. It should be taken into account that the ink of the text on this side of the tablet is quite faded, and a direct examination of the tablet is necessary for solving dubious cases. 1 See A. E. R. Boak, "Greek and Coptic Tablets at Michigan," CP 16 (1921) 191-92. R. Cribiore, Writing, Teachers and Students in Graeco-Roman Egypt (Atlanta 1996, henceforth cited as Cribiore 1996) no. 118. 2 See Cribiore 1996, nos. 23 and 36. 3 See, e.g., the back of tablet 160 in Cribiore 1996.
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