Cuneiform Tablet


2028 BC


2.0″ (5.1cm) high x 1.49″ (3.8cm) wide





Gallery Location



Clay Tablet with 14 lines of Sumerian Cuneiform writing This is an administrative document from the period of the Third Dynasty of Ur, dated to the first year of Ibbi-Sin, last kinf of the dynasty c. 2028 BC. The month is given, but it appears to be hitherto unknown. The day of the month, the 16th, is given on the left edge, downwards. The document is a kind of “messenger tablet”, that is it lists food issued to official messengers. Translation 3 sila of beer, 2 sila of bread: Mr Shu-…, king’s messenger when he went to muster the serf barley harvesters. 3 sila of beer, 2 sila of bread: Mr Puzur-Ishtar, king’s messenger when he went to Der 3 sila of beer, 2 sila of bread: Mr Shu-Ishhara, kings messenger when he went to the governor 2 sila of beer, 2 sila of bread: Mr Nanna-uru- lubarra. A disbursement: month Shuniggal, year: Ibbi-Sin, king. ***** A sila is a measurement of capacity, about .85 of a litre. This explains the beer to us, but how was bread measured by capacity? The ancient texts do not explain. Perhaps it was the quantity of flour used, not the finished product that was measured. Messenger tablets have been known for some time, but this is not typical in that each person is called a “king’s messenger”, and the purpose of the errand is stated in all but the last. Der was a town in the Diyala valley, the route from Sumer to West Iran. The tablet is in good condition, with only a little abrading of the obverse.

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