In the year 40 of the reign of Ramses II, in Egypt, the absences of workers and the reasons for them were already recorded. Some were very common at the time, but sound so strange today, such as “embalming a brother” or “brewing beer”.
This is recorded on an ostracon (block of stone for writing, in this case limestone) from 1250 B.C., found at Deir el-Medina (Thebes), in northern Egypt, and now in the British Museum in London, which served as a record of attendance at work.
The stone has 24 lines written on each side, in hieratic script, covering 70 days. The names of the workers are written there, along with the date, indicating the reason for the absence from work: “making offerings to the gods”, “he was stung by a scorpion”, “his daughter was bleeding”, “building his house”, “making a libation to his father” (an offering that consisted of pouring wine or other liquids on the ground).
Although some of the motifs may be as anachronistic as these, however, most of those noted are more normal, classified as “sickness” (about a hundred times) or “he is with his boss.”
These types of media were often used to annotate receipts, records or other types of documents, as they were cheaper than papyrus. They are usually written in hieratic or demotic, and sometimes in cursive.