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  • 5,000 Year Old Pay Stub Shows Ancients Were Paid In Beer

    In the ancient Mesopotamian city of Uruk, residents enjoyed many benefits of modern life. The city, located in modern-day Iraq, was home to massive ziggu­rats that would rival any of today’s modern skyscrap­ers for sheer monumen­tal­ity. People in Uruk exchanged goods for money, played board games, and sent each other letters on clay tablets using a writing system called cuneiform. They were also paid for their labor in beer. We know this because pay stubs were incred­i­bly common documents at the time, and one such pay stub (pictured above) is now in the posses­sion of the British Museum.

    Writing in New Scien­tist, Alison George explains what’s written on the 5,000-year-old tablet: “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.” Beer wages were by no means limited to Mesopotamia. In ancient Egypt, there are records of people receiv­ing beer for their work...