CLARK COLLECTION OF ANCIENT ART:

CUNEIFORM TABLETS




Ripon College currently owns 7 cuneiform tablets, left from the original 14 tablets purchased from dealer Edgar James Banks in 1920 by Ripon College professor of physics William Harley Barber. The cuneiform tablets are mainly records of the sale, transfer, or receipt of grain and animals used for cultic and secular purposes. All of the tablets in this collection are from sites in what is today Iraq. Five of the tablets are from the 3rd Dynasty of Ur (Neo-Sumerian period), c. 2000 BCE; and one is from the Old Babylonian period, c. 1800 BCE. The remaining tablet is broken and largely illegible.

W. H. Barber, 1920 Crimson


The project of decoding Ripon College's cuneiform tablets began as an assignment for Dr. Katina Lillios's archaeological methods course. Student Elizabeth McCarrier (Class of 1998) contacted Markus Hilgert, an Assyriologist then doing research at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. Hilgert translated Ripon College's cuneiform tablets in the spring of 1997. As a result of McCarrier's efforts and Hilgert's publications, our cuneiform collection is becoming invaluable to the college and to scholars worldwide.

Elizabeth McCarrier, Class of 1998

Cuneiform, from the Latin cuneus, meaning "wedge," is the term applied to a mode of writing which used a wedge-shaped stylus to make impressions on a clay surface, and also on stone, metal, and wax. Most of the clay tablets were sun-baked, making surviving tablets very fragile. This technique originated in ancient southern Mesopotamia and the earliest texts in cuneiform script are about 5000 years old.

Cuneiform writing was probably invented by the Sumerians, but was subsequently adapted for writing in the Akkadian language, of which Babylonian and Assyrian are dialects. Writing was invented in the ancient Near East in order to record business activities, but tablets containing medical texts and other subjects have also been found.


EC.74.1

Date: c. 1943-1934 BCE ([]/[]/Shu-uen])

Provenience: Puzrish-Dagan (c. 8 km southeast of Nippur).

Contents: Withdrawal of various animals for cultic and secular purposes.

Misc.: Seal impressions all over tablet surface

Dimensions:
l: 95.5 mm
w: 50.5 mm
h: 22.5 mm

Transliteration
Translations (Click here for copyright information)

Obverse:
... [about three lines broken]
01' x grain-fed sheep for the throne,
02' x grain-fed sheep for Hursag-galama,
03' in the temple of the god Enlil;
04' [x+?] 1 grain-fed, long-fleeced sheep of fourth grade quality,
05' x grain-fed sheep,
06' x grain-fed sheep, "following the oxen"
07' for the goddess Ninlil,
08' [x+?] 1 grain-fed sheep for the goddess Nanna,
09' in the temple of the god Ninlil;
10' Suen-abushu, the "cup bearer," was the responsible official.
11' x grain-fed sheep of fourth grade quality,
12' 1 grain-fed female kid of third grade quality -it is the first time-
13' 1 grain-fed female kid of fourth grade quality
14' -it is the second time-,
15' the king was present;
16' midnight (-offering).
17' 1 grain-fed sheep of fourth grade quality,
18' 1 grain-fed female kid of fourth grade quality
19' -it is the first time-,



Reverse:
20' 1 grain-fed sheep -it is the second time-,
21' for the goddess Inana;
22' 2 grain-fed sheep of second grade quality,
23' 1 lamb for the god Nanna, in the garden;
24' Suen-abushu, the "cup bearer," was the responsible official;
25' on the day when Abi-simti, (the queen), wore the shugura-cap.
26' x grain-fed, fat-tailed, male sheep, breeder, for the god Ishkur;
27' x sheep for the god Enki;
28' x grain-fed sheep for the goddess Damgalnuna
29' x grain-fed sheep for the deity Bisila;
30' offering in the palace;
31' x grain-fed sheep for the god Nanna of the cattle-pen;
32' Shu-Suen-la-mahar, the "cup bearer," was the responsible official;
33' x grain-fed sheep, "following the oxen,"
34' for the kitchen, for the runners;
35' responsible for the transport was Anid, the vizer.
36' IR-gu was the responsible official.
37' evening (-offering)
... [about four lines broken]

Seal:
01 Shu-Suen,
02 mighty king,
03 king of Ur,
04 king of the Four Corners of the Universe,
05 Ur-Shulpae,
06 the scribe,
07 the son of Ur-Haia.



EC.74.2

Date: c. 1948 BCE (29/I/Amar-Suena 4)

Provenience: Puzrish-Dagan (c. 8 km southeast of Nippur)

Contents: Withdrawal of three grain-fed oxen for the governor of Girsu.

Dimensions:
l: 34.0 mm
w: 31.0 mm
h: 16.0 mm

Transliteration

Notes: According to Markus Hilgert, this tablet is very similar to one in the Princeton Theological Seminary; see Marcel Sigrist's, "Tablettes du Princeton Theological Seminary: Époque d'Ur III" in Occasional Publications of the Samuel Noah Kramer Fund, Vol. 10 (Philadelphia, 1990), no. 88.

Translations (Click here for copyright information)

Obverse:
01 3 grain-fed oxen
02 for the GANA-mash-festival of Girsu,
03 29 days of the month have passed,
04 (for the) bala-offering of Nanna-zishagal, the governor of Girsu,




Reverse:
05 Shulgi-aagu
06 withdrew them.
07 Month: mashdagu (I);
08 Year: Enmahgalana, high priestess of Nanna, was installed (AS 4).

Left Edge:
09 (Total:) 3 oxen.



EC.74.3

Date: c. 1950 BCE (27/IV/Amar-Suena 2)

Provenience: Puzrish-Dagan (c. 8 km southeast of Nippur)

Contents: Transfer of dead animals from Lu-digira to Ur-nigar.

Dimensions:
l: 29.0 mm
w: 25.0 mm
h: 15.0 mm

Transliteration
Translations (Click here for copyright information)

Obverse:
01 1 ewe, mouflon-hybrid,
02 1 goat, bezoar-hybrid,
03 1 female kid, bezoar-hybrid,
04 they have perished,
05 it is the 27th day,



Reverse:
06 from Lu-digira
07 Ur-nigar
08 received them.
09 Month: ki-siki Nin-azu (IV);
10 Year: The divine Amar-Suena, the king, destroyed Urbilum (AS 2).



EC.74.4

Date: c. 1951 BCE (5/V/Amar-Suena 1)

Provenience: Puzrish-Dagan (c. 8 km southeast of Nippur)

Contents: Transfer of one grain-fed ox from Nasa to Ahuni

Dimensions:
l: 24.0 mm
w: 22.5 mm
h: 11.0 mm

Transliteration

Notes: For transliteration and translation of this cuneiform tablet, see also Markus Hilgert's Cuneiform Texts from the Ur III Period in the Oriental Institute,Volume 2: Drehem Administrative Documents from the Reign of Amar-Suena (Chicago: The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, forthcoming).

An exact duplicate of this tablet is held in the Yale Babylonian Collection; see Clarence Elwood Keiser's "Neo-Sumerian Account Texts from Drehem" in Babylonian Inscriptions in the Collection of James B. Nies, Vol. 3 (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 1971), no. 34.

Translations (Click here for copyright information)

Obverse:
01 1 grain-fed ox,
02 it is the 5th day,
03 from Nasa
04 Ahuni took it in charge.




Reverse:
05 Month: Festival of Nin-azu (V);
06 Year: The divine Amar-Suena became king (AS 1).



EC.74.5

Date: c. 1931 BCE (-/XII/Ibbi-Suen 3)

Provenience: Umma

Contents: Receipt of barley as regular offering for the god Shara.

Misc.: Seal impressions all over the tablet surface

Dimensions:
l: 51.0 mm
w: 42.0 mm
h: 18.0 mm

Transliteration
Translations (Click here for copyright information)

Obverse:
01 17,190 liters of barley,
02 regular offering for the god Shara,
03 it is the 12th month,
04 from Gududu;



Reverse:
05 seal of Shada;
06 [space]
07 Year: Simurum was destroyed (IS 3).

Seal:
01 Shada,
02 the...,
03 the son of Lugal-ushar.



EC.74.6

Date: Old Babylonian Period (-/IX/[])

Provenience: unknown

Contents: Receipt of chick-peas.

Misc.: Seal impressions all over the tablet surface

Dimensions:
l: 41.0 mm
w: 40.5 mm
h: 21.0 mm

Transliteration
Translations (Click here for copyright information)

Obverse:
01 10 liters of chick peas,
02 for Sirrani,
03 from Hulli (?) - [...],
04 at the order of [...],
05 Etel-pi-N[a...]
06 received them.
07 Until the day of the harvest [...].



Reverse:
08 Witness: Sirranium.
09 Witness: Dan-Suen, the mayor.
10 Witness: Mannu-balu-Shamash.
11 [space]
12 Month: kislimu (IX). [the x day];
13 Year: [...].
14 ...

Seal:
01 [...]
02 son of A-[...]
03 servant of [...].



EC.74.7

Date:Neo-Babylonian

Provenience: unknown

Contents:legal text dealing with barley; heavily damaged, much of text difficult to read

Dimensions (approx.):
l: 35 mm
w: 51 mm
h: 15 mm

Transliteration
Translations

Translation by Dr. John Brinkman, Oriental Institute.

date: Simanu-day 22-[year broken away], Nebuchadnezzar (II), king of Babylon
[the year date could be restored as any year between 604 and 562 B.C.; Simanu is the third month of the year (=May/June)]
This is a legal document dealing with barley (´┐ŻE.BAR)
It mentions the temple of Eanna (in the southern Babylonian city of Uruk = biblical Erech).
Names of persons that are readable: Nabu-ahha-bullit, Marduk-zera-ibni, Nadin, Marduk(?)

Please email Professor Eddie Lowry with any questions or comments.