Charts & Graphs

Amanuenses Then and Now

Scribal knowledge in Babylon and the United States.

What a scribe in ancient Babylonia (c. 1792 bc) needed to know:

  • Secret meaning of Sumerian words
  • Different kinds of calligraphy and occult script
  • How to draw up, cover, and seal a document
  • All categories of songs and how to conduct a choir
  • The technical jargon of silversmiths and jewelers
  • The use and technique of various musical instruments

What an administrative assistant in the United States (c. 2008) needs to know*:

  • Maintaining an effective records management system
  • Proper English usage, including abbreviation and capitalization
  • Most ergonomic position for working at a computer terminal
  • The best time to prepare daily to-do lists
  • The best type of shredder to destroy sensitive material
  • *According to the International Association of Administrative Professionals