Ancient Near East, Old Babylon, ca. mid to late 2nd millennium BCE. A fine example of a clay administrative tablet of an elongated rectangular form with one flat face, one convex face, planar top and bottom peripheries, and slightly rounded lateral peripheries. The tablet contains seventy-one inscribed lines for inscribing cuneiform text, with the convex side bearing seven inscribed columns and the flat side bearing nine columns, and some lines even extend onto the top and bottom of the tablet. The writing contained within, though incomplete, provides a long account of the numbers of five types of personnel under the supervision of named officials. Lucite display stand for photography purposes only. Size: 2.8" W x 5.8" H (7.1 cm x 14.7 cm)
Cuneiform script is one of the oldest known writing systems in the world, made using a reed as a stylus and scratching wedge-shaped marks onto clay tablets. Early cuneiform was pictographic, but in the 3rd millennium BCE it shifted to the more abstract form you see here. These cuneiform tablets are some of the roughly 2 million known from this culture; of these, between 30,000 and 100,000 have been translated. The earliest translations came in 1836 from the work of French scholar Eugene Burnouf and by the 1850s multiple scholars were able to produce similar translations, meaning the language had been deciphered.
Provenance: private New York, New York, USA collection; ex-private prominent D.K. collection, New York, USA, acquired in the 2000s
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Repair to small area of one corner, with small chips and light resurfacing along break lines. Minor nicks and abrasions to both faces and peripheries, with softening to some inscribed cuneiform characters, and light encrustations. Nice earthen deposits throughout.