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The Richest Man In Babylon

The Clay Tablets From Babylon

While excavating the remains of Babylon, Alfred Shrewsbury, from the Department of Archaeology at the University of Nottingham, wrote a letter on October 21, 1934, to Professor Franklin Caldwell, of the British scientific expedition in Mesopotamia. In this letter, the Professor stated that he, with his team, found 5 tablets in Babylon and that they need to be translated.


The content of the letter surprised him because the letter revealed about Dabasir who faced difficulties in paying off his debt. Furthermore, Dabasir explained certain ways by which one can pay their debts off. 


Mr. Shrewsbury ended the letter by stating that he and his wife will apply the methods described by Debasir, to manage their personal finances better.


Let's read what each tablet tells us:


Tablet 1:

Dabasir who just returned from Syria, was determined to repay all his debts and become a man who is worthy of respect in his hometime of Babylon.


He made a plan which had the following goals:

  • 10% of what he will earn will be saved by him.
  • 70% of what he will earn should be enough to meet the needs of his home, food, and clothing. He took an oath that he will never spend more than 70% of his income on his needs.

Tablet 2:

His debts will be repaid from whatever he was left with, i.e., 20% if he follows the first 2 steps properly.

All the names who Dabasir owed to, were inscribed in this tablet.


Tablet 3: 

Dabasir owed a total sum of 119 pieces of silver and 141 pieces of copper coins. Some of the lenders accepted his plan, others made fun of him.


Table 4:

After working as a camel trader, Dabasir earned a total of 19 pieces of silver. He kept following the plan, and by the end of the 1st day, he reduced his debt by 4 pieces of silver. He also managed to save 2 pieces of silver.


Tablet 5:

Soon after this, the creditors of Dabasir stopped making fun of him. This plan brought him success, as Dabasir was able to pay off all his debts.

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Units 11/13