In Turkey we don't use file drawers very much. Instead we use clear sheet protectors (thousands of them) in big binders like the one you see here. Sometimes I'll include a CD with a backup of the files in the binder. Very useful, and apparently just a recent version of a very old idea.
After the discovery of inscriptions in Luwian Hittite hieroglyphs and Phoenician script at Aslantaş, and tens of thousands of multilingual cuneiform clay tablets at sites like Hattusa and Kültepe, archaeologists went to work to decipher the hieroglyphs. Since they already knew both Phoenecian writing and cuneiform in other languages, they could use them to triangulate (love that word!) the meanings of the Hittite symbols and work out those thousands of Hittite tablets.
The Hittites borrowed cuneiform writing from neighboring Babylonians, Assyrians and other peoples, and they also borrowed the uses for such a versatile writing system. Invoices, prayers, business contracts, horoscopes, trial outcomes, even textbooks and student worksheets (similar to the one in the banner of this blog), have been found by the thousands. Bureaucracy especially thrived with this new medium for tracking the minutiae of a world power.
Several world powers later and we're still pushing paper. That is to say, much of what we put on paper the ancients put on clay. One problem: while soft clay is great for writing cuneiform and wiping mistakes clean, once a tablet is dry you have the risk of breakage, or at least a chipped codicil.
Ancient Mesopotamians worked around this by making a clay envelope that completely covered the valuable document. Along the exterior of this still soft envelope a scribe would write a copy of the interior text. If anything happened to the envelope, the inner tablet would stay intact, at least long enough to make another copy.
Next: Where are the boundaries of a paradigm?