Ur-III Dated Cuneiform Administrative Tablet

£ 1,500.00

An Ur-III, fired clay, administrative tablet, decorated with cuneiform inscription. Square in shape, both the obverse and reverse feature bands of cuneiform text. The sides of the tablet are further embellished with pictographic imagery, as usually seen on cylinder seals. The tablet is dated to the reign of King Shu-Suen[Sin], to year 9. The rest of the translation follows as:

Receipt of [x] minas, 19 1/3 shekels, and 11 grains of gold, “15 each”

and 1/2 mina of gold “10 each” from Turam-ili,

the merchant by Enua.

Dated to year 9 of King Shu-Suen.

Seal: Enua, scribe, don of Ea-rabi.

The seal comes with a record card with the above translation, provided by Assyriologist R. Kovac. The mention of gold is not very common on Ur III texts, making this doubly rare for its mention and the specific year dating.

Date: Circa 2028 BC or 1964 BC
Provenance: Ex London dealer collection, acquired 1980s-2000s.
Condition: Very fine condition. Chip to the top.


Product Code: NES-173
Category: Tags: ,

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.

This cuneiform tablet is dated to year 9 of the King Shu-Suen[Sin], giving us a precise timeline of events and records. Assyriologists use a framework of events to determine dates within Near Eastern history and chronology, due largely to the lack of resources. Most of the dating taken from tablets, administrative records and seals, records a succession of events. For example, an event happening in the ‘x’ year of ‘y’ person. Grouping such events can then produce a relative chronology. The discrepancies that arise from this way of piecing together events means dates can vary by 100 odd years. Now, the most widely used chronology for Near Eastern dating is the Middle Chronology or the Short chronology. The former gives the years of Shu-Suen’s[Sin] reign as circa 2037 – 2028 BC, whilst the latter dates are 1973 – 1964 BC. Year 9 of his reign would thus be either 2028 BC or 1964 BC. Shu-Suen[Sin] was the penultimate king of the Ur III dynasty and various records of him exist, preserved in cuneiform script. Most notably is the erotic poem addressed to the king from a female admirer.

Weight 99.6 g
Dimensions W 5 x H 5 cm



Near East (Western Asiatic)

Reference: For Similar: Christie’s Auction House, New York, Auction 20677, 12th April 2022, lot 44

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