Cuneiform Tablet


2027 BC


6.37″ (16.2cm) high x 3.7″ (9.4cm) wide





Gallery Location



Large Clay Tablet, with 86 Lines of Sumerian Cuneiform writing in four columns This is written in a large, clear professional hand, and what we have is very well preserved and clear, but the right side of the tablet has some loss and there is the jab of a workman’s pick in the left hand column of the reverse. It is an administrative document from the period of the Third Dynasty of Ur, dated to the 2nd year of Ibbi-Sin, last king of the dynasty, c. 2027 BC. It is a record of the staff of a big temple estate, with wages specified in some cases. Sumerian temples were not only places of worship but were big economic organisations owning fields and workshops, and having professional staff for all spheres. Translation: Ur-Nungal, scribe. Dada’e, plowman A child, female, Enum-Ishtar A child, female, Ali-Abi Iribhupshin, male Sipanakuri, male Nana, female Male heir… His children Bubu Lugal-inim-gina Shu-Adad Oxherds Dead: Garri, plowman Shat-ili, his daughter Ushu-kin, his brother Zena Ur-Shalpa-e Oxherds, plowmen and oxherds Ili-Andul, herder Puzur-Sin Irib-Sin Ili-iddina… His children Bagagalum A daughter… Dushumum Da.[… 54 Adal[lal] Sailors 54 Beli-Arish,… 33 Agatiti, son of Arshi-ah, shepherd The brewery 54 Shu-Ishtar, leather worker 11 Sila Bur Adad 11 Sila a male child his children Dead: …Puzur-…ni, reed worker 33 Shalim-ni’ash, female, child of Ilu’a 33 Abigaru’e 33 Me-… 33 Sin-nur[i…] son of Zuzu-ba. […] 33 Mamma-.[… …] son of Iddin-.[…] 33 Sha.[… …], child of Hinum […] female singers 33 E[n… …] sister of Ur-[……] 11 sila 33 [… 33 Shu-[……] child of Irrib[…] 33 She[… 33 Shat-[……] child of Iddin-abum 33 Ummenu.[… 11 sila Dumu-ir [… 33 Kum[……] child of Ili-ashranni 33 Ali-[… 33 Ali-[……] child of Ahu’a-..[…] 33 Dabba […] child of As[hu… Total: 13 serfs receiving rations Total: 4 serfs at 54 minas Total: 60 serfs at 33 minas Total: 1 child [… Total: 4 child .[… Total: […… Total: 17 slave girls at 33 minas Total: …2 daughters Total: 3 daughters Total: 2 dead serfs, while on a journey 26 male slaves 22 female slaves 2 serfs on a journey, dead …[…]……, from Ninshaga, through Ire-banlah Month: Gisigga, year: the high priestess of Inanna of Uruk was chosen by divination *** The translation just given is given with some reserve. While its general content gives the correct impression on the document, there are many terms that are not properly understood, and much of the content is also unclear. Many of the persons referred to as serfs are prefixed with the number ‘33’, and among the totals it appears that 33 minas are meant. A mina was a unit of weight, but no food such as was generally supplied to serfs was measured by weight. Barley and its products were measured by bulk. The only likely item is wool, or woollen cloth. But 33 minas of that seems excessive for a person, even if it is meant for one year. Much more evidence and research is needed to extract the full value from such social documents.

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