Price upon request


Period / Age: circa 2nd Millennium B.C.

Provenance: Private English Collection The property of a London gentleman and housed in London before 1992 and then by descent to family members


Length: 5.2cm
Weight: 44g

Cuneiform tablets were used for administrative accounts concerning the distribution of barley and emmer in the Babylonian age.

Cuneiform is a logo-syllabic script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Middle East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the Common Era. It is named for the characteristic wedge-shaped impressions which form its signs.

Of the many legacies left by the ancient civilisations of southern Mesopotamia, the invention of writing is paramount. At the end of the fourth millennium B.C., written language developed in the region, first as pictographs and then evolving into abstract forms called cuneiform. The pictographs, like the ones on this tablet, are called proto-cuneiform and were drawn in clay with a pointed implement. Circular impressions alongside the pictographs represented numerical symbols. Cuneiform (meaning wedge-shaped) script was written by pressing a reed pen or stylus with a wedge-shaped tip into a clay tablet. Clay, when dried to a somewhat hardened state, made a fine surface for writing, and when fired the records written on it became permanent.

Early writing was used primarily as a means of recording and storing economic information. This tablet most likely documents deliveries and distributions of grain such as barley and emmer wheat, although the absence of verbs in early texts makes them difficult to interpret with certainty.

CONDITION: Very good condition. The item is described to the best of our knowledge. Please refer to the pictures and email us with any questions.