Mesopotamian Sumerian Rectangular Clay Cuneiform Tablet

£ 3,950.00

A complete Mesopotamian rectangular pillow-shaped clay tablet with rounded corners, covered in Sumerian cuneiform. Carved onto the obverse and the majority of the reverse with cuneiform script, this tablet features records listing ‘hoes’ issued to workers on a big temple or palace estate.

Date: Circa 2500-2300 BC
Provenance: Acquired at L'Hotel Drouot, Paris, France. Anonymous sale; Bonhams, London 1 May 2008, lot 148. Acquired by the previous owner from the above auction.
Condition: Very fine condition and intact.


Product Code: NES-171
Category: Tags: ,

Mesopotamia (Ancient Greek: Μεσοποταμία – “land between rivers”, the Tigris and the Euphrates) is a historical region in the Middle East which included most of today’s Iraq and parts of modern-day Iran, Syria and Turkey. The area, characterised by fertile lands, saw the rise of the first complex urban centre and is, consequently, often referred to as the “cradle of civilisation”. Historically important centres in Mesopotamia included Uruk, Ur, Nippur, Nineveh, and Babylon. With the development of complex social structures came the need to record, as we do today, such things as temple acquisitions, land transactions, financial loans, as well as their epic stories and personal letters. Cuneiform writing was one of the earliest forms of writing, first developed in Mesopotamia around 3000 BC by the Sumerians. It is instantly recognisable by the wedge-shaped marks, usually pressed into wet clay tablets using a blunt reed. Indeed, the name ‘cuneiform’ literally means “wedge-shaped”. Clay tablets, such as this example, would have then been dried, which allowed them to retain the inscriptions.

Weight 280.8 g
Dimensions W 7 x H 10.5 cm



Near East (Western Asiatic)

Reference: For similar: The Metropolitan Museum, New York, item 11.217.29

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