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About the Collection

The process of marking or inscribing clay tablets with characters, constituting an early form of writing, dates back to the to the fourth millennium BC.

 

One of the largest collections of cuneiform tablets in Ireland is housed in the Russell Library at Maynooth University. The collection of sixty-five tablets in the Sumerian language and a pre-writing stamp seal were collected by an Irish army chaplain during the First World War. The material dates from c. 3500–1900 BC and includes both cuneiform tablets and cones bearing royal inscriptions from the early Babylonian period, as well as administrative and economic accounts from the Ur III period (c. 2100–2000 BC), a Neo-Sumerian culture writing in the Sumerian language. The Ur III period clay tablets have a combination of stylus and cylindrical seal impressions, some with figurative details.

 

A group of tablets and cones depict an inscription relating to Sîn-kāšid, a king of the ancient Mesopotamian city of Uruk nearly 4,000 years ago during the early Babylonian period. Other texts in the collection offer a fascinating insight into everyday life in Babylonia during the late third millennium BC and relate to trade and agriculture. These texts bear witness to the rather complex administration of the Ur III state, which dealt, among other things, with the incoming and outgoing of goods and the assignment of workers to specific tasks. This exciting collection has recently been digitised and is now freely available on the website of the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative, http://cdli.ucla.edu/, a joint project of the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of Oxford and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin.

 

The collection is on display at the Russell Library, Maynooth University.

 

Extract from McCormack, B. 2015, Babylonian Clay Tablets, History Ireland.  

 

 

 

References:

Kassin, Alexei. “Lexical Matches between Sumerian and Hurro-Urartian: Possible Historical Scenarios”. Cuneiform Digital Library Journal 2014:4, http://www.cdli.ucla.edu/pubs/cdlj/2014/cdlj2014_4.html.

Lafont, Bertrand. “The Army of the Kings of Ur: The Textual Evidence”. Cuneiform Digital Library Journal 2009:5, http://cdli.ucla.edu/pubs/cdlj/2009/cdlj2009_005.html.  

Yanli, Chen. “The Names of the Leaders and Diplomats of Marhaši and Related Men in the Ur III Dynasty”. Cuneiform Digital Library Journal 2017:1, http://www.cdli.ucla.edu/pubs/cdlj/2017/cdlj2017_001.html.

 Ragavan, Dean. “Cuneiform Texts and Fragments in the Harvard Art Museum / Arthur M. Sackler Museum” Cuneiform Digital Library Journal 2014:4, http://cdli.ucla.edu/pubs/cdlj/2010/001.html.

Spada, Gabriella. “Two Old Babylonian Model Contracts”. Cuneiform Digital Library Journal 2014:4, http://www.cdli.ucla.edu/pubs/cdlj/2014/cdlj2014_002.html.