Old Babylonian Terracotta Cuneiform Tablet

SKU LO.1245

1900 BC to 1700 BC


2.87″ (7.3cm) high x 1.87″ (4.7cm) wide





Gallery Location

S Korea


28 Lines of Old Babylonian Cuneiform

This tablet contains a letter between two men in a business relationship. The one is senior to the other, so he addresses him as father and calls himself son, terms not to be taken literally. The tablet is well preserved, and save for a few line-ends which are obscured due to heavy incrustation (which could be removed) the text is clear.


Speak to my father and my Lord, “Thus says Bali-ilim your son: ‘May Shamash and Tishpak keep my father and my lord in good health for eternity. Who have I been able to trust from the beginning, and but for you I have no father or lord. Now, yesterday, when my father went for his health, Nur-Shamash tried to block my nostrils. My father wrote saying, “I will send a full report from the Forest of Barqu.” I will pay attention to that matter as to your health. Nur- Shamash, now, has departed for my father. Nur- Shamash should write for you a full report, so that my father will act to spare me. I would raise(?) my hands day and night in the presence of Tishpak and bless my father. Then my father should put his name on me.’”

The tablet dates to c. 1900-1700 B.C. As to area, the god Shamash, the sun-god, was popular everywhere, but the other god invoked, Tishpak was only at home in the Diyala area, so most likely this letter comes from there. Clearly the writer, Bali-ilim, was in a difficult position and another man in this affair, Nur-Shamash, was a rival. This Bali-ilim is trying to get his senior to take his side.

Description and translation kindly provided by Professor W. G. Lambert

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