Ancient Near East, Ur III, ca. 2112 to 2004 BCE. A clay "biscuit" with cuneiform writing. 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. It is carved with clear text that records an administrative record of animals delivered from the city of Puzrish-Dagan (modern site of Drehem). Size: 1.15" W x 1.1" H (2.9 cm x 2.8 cm)
Puzrish-Dagan was a cattleyard that provided animal offerings to temples throughout Sumer. Although it might be more romantic to imagine that these tablets discussed the doings of kings and gods, from a historical standpoint, it is much more interesting to learn about the daily transactions of humanity's first great urban center.
Translation provided by consignor.
Provenance: Ex-Private New York Collection; acquired at Estates Unlimited Auction, Cranston, RI 06/06/08
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