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Cuneiform Tablet Collection

Permalink: https://diginole.lib.fsu.edu/islandora/object/fsu:cuniformtablets

While excavating in Babylonia (present-day Iraq) for the University of Chicago in 1903-1904, archeologist Dr. Edgar J. Banks (1866 –1945) acquired a magnificent collection of ancient inscribed Babylonian clay tablets which illustrate the oldest of writings. They are mostly temple records and business documents dating from over 4000 years ago. In 1922, Dr. Josiah Bethea Game (1869-1935) negotiated the purchase of twenty-five tablets for the Florida State College for Women (FSCW). The tablets range in size from one to two square inches, and are square, rounded and cone shaped.

Among the cuneiform artifacts are a ritual tablet from Warka dated 2100 BC; a memorandum from Senkereh, the ancient Larsa, 22 BC; a temple record, sealed with the royal seal of the King of Ur of the Chaldees, 2350 BC; sun-dried business contract, 220 BC; sun-dried exercise tablet, 2200 BC; butchers bill for four sheep, 2150 BC; a votive cone, King of Amanu, from the temple of the goddess Ishtar, which he built in the royal residence of his kingdom 2100 BC; a tax bill, 2350 BC; and a business contract dated in Nebuchadnezzar’s reign.

This selection of our cuneiform collection was digitized and translated as part of a project in 2008. The RTI files available for download are from a student project in 2016.

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A list of goods for scribes
A list of goods for scribes
Summary: Most of the obverse of this tablet is too damaged to read, but the reverse suggests that it is a list of items handed out to personnel, at least some of whom were scribes. The fact that the distributed items were weighed suggests that they were not grain rations but rather metals or wool.
Administrative note, 1790 BCE
Administrative note, 1790 BCE
Summary: Another badly damaged administrative record, apparently noting the distribution of grain to a single individual.
Damaged administrative document
Damaged administrative document
Summary: Almost nothing except the date survives of this small administrative record, but the morphology of the tablet and the style of hand-writing suggest that it was probably an early administrative record like FSU 6 and FSU 11.
Damaged sealed letter order
Damaged sealed letter order
Summary: This small sealed, but undated tablet is too damaged to identify its original function or provenance.
Delivery of dead sheep, 2053 BCE
Delivery of dead sheep, 2053 BCE
Summary: This tablet contains a brief record of livestock that were dead on arrival at their destination (or that died shortly thereafter). Living animals from the same herd would have been accounted for on a separate tablet.
Delivery of sheep and goats
Delivery of sheep and goats
Summary: This tablet summarizes the delivery of various sheep and goats recorded by at least two different scribes (the beginning and end of the document are missing), but most of the livestock noted by Ğiri-Šara-idab have since died.
Disbursement of garments, 2033 BCE
Disbursement of garments, 2033 BCE
Summary: This rather difficult, damaged tablet seems to record the disbursement of garments to prisoners from named individuals. Most extant lists of clothing gifts record the weight of each length of cloth. This record, however, does not.
FSU Tablet 15
FSU Tablet 15
Summary: None possible; tablet is too illegible.
FSU Tablet 26
FSU Tablet 26
This item was created by a technique known as Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) or Polynomial Texture Mapping (PTM), and may require specialized software for full interaction. As of 2017, Cultural Heritage Imaging (http://culturalheritageimaging.org) maintains the RTIViewer which can open this file type.
FSU Tablet 27
FSU Tablet 27
This item was created by a technique known as Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) or Polynomial Texture Mapping (PTM), and may require specialized software for full interaction. As of 2017, Cultural Heritage Imaging (http://culturalheritageimaging.org) maintains the RTIViewer which can open this file type.
List of beer rations for high officials and priests, circa 2051 BCE
List of beer rations for high officials and priests, circa 2051 BCE
Summary: This is a very unusual record, documenting the distribution of ‘high quality beer’ for a variety of priests and priestesses in Umma, who were perhaps attached to the temple of the city-god Šara.
List of sheep and goats
List of sheep and goats
Summary: This fragmentary tablet assigns livestock (as rations?) to senior members of the Umma administration.
List of sheep and goats for sacrifice
List of sheep and goats for sacrifice
This tablet allocates different numbers of animals for sacrifice to (the statues of) several major deities, male and female, in the god Iškur’s temple, as well as to the goddess Allatum., Date, dimensions, and translation from Clark and Robson (2009).
Note about grain
Note about grain
This undated, unsigned note records over 100,000 litres of grain entering a store room. The erased numerals on the reverse suggest it was written in the process of drawing up a more formal record of account. Identical quantities of grain are mentioned in BIN 5, 113, a grain account of one Ur-saga from Puzriš-Dagan (Šulgi year 37)., Date, dimensions, and translation from Clark and Robson (2009).
Receipt of sheep and goats, 2037 BCE
Receipt of sheep and goats, 2037 BCE
Summary: An administrator receives small numbers of sheep and goats destined for various senior officials.
Receipt of sheep and goats, 2046 BCE
Receipt of sheep and goats, 2046 BCE
Summary: This tablet, from the state livestock collection center at Puzriš-Dagan, documents the birth of lambs and kids to animals that were under the center’s administration, and hands them to a named individual for rearing.
Record of grain
Record of grain
Summary: A small, rather damaged tablet recording the disbursement of grain for various reasons.
Record of withdrawals from a sealed warehouse, 2053 BCE
Record of withdrawals from a sealed warehouse, 2053 BCE
Summary: Two quantities of grain, or a similarly fluid commodity, are apparently transferred from a sealed warehouse to the temples of Enlil and Ninil in this rather damaged document.
Royal inscription of Sîn-kāšid on a votive cone
Royal inscription of Sîn-kāšid on a votive cone
Summary: This clay cone bears a well-known votive inscription for Sîn-kāšid, king of Uruk, commemorating the (re)building of the goddess Inana’s temple E-ana at Uruk. The text, a variant of FSU 25, is published as RIME 4.4.1.3.
Royal inscription of Sîn-kāšid on a votive tablet
Royal inscription of Sîn-kāšid on a votive tablet
This tablet bears a well-known votive inscription for Sîn-kāšid, king of Uruk, commemorating the (re)building of the goddess Inanna’s temple Eanna at Uruk. The text, a variant of FSU 24, is published as RIME 4.4.1.4., Date, dimensions, and translation from Clark and Robson (2009).

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