LC Global Gateway: “Cuneiform Tablets: From the Reign of Gudea of Lagash to Shalmanassar III"
“Cuneiform Tablets: From the Reign of Gudea of Lagash to Shalmanassar III,” a presentation from the Library of Congress’s African and Middle Eastern Division, is now available on the Library’s Global Gateway Web site (see the web address provided in the contact information, below).
“Cuneiform Tablets: From the Reign of Gudea of Lagash to Shalmanassar III” includes 38 items--mostly clay tablets, but also several brick fragments and two clay cones. The oldest tablets date from the reign of Gudea of Lagash (2144-2124 B.C.). Other tablets appear to belong to the Ur III period, early second century B.C, including some tablets inscribed with dates ranging from 2063 to 2031 B.C. These tablets contain the earliest examples of writing held in the Library of Congress.
Cuneiform, an ancient pictographic writing system developed by the Sumerians, involves the use of a reed to make impressions in clay. The tip of a reed stylus was impressed into a wet clay surface to draw the strokes of the pictograph-thus acquiring a “wedge-shaped” appearance. The clay [or brick] was then either baked in a kiln or dried by the sun. The word cuneiform is derived from Latin-“cuneus” for wedge and “forma,” meaning shape.
The cuneiform tablets in this online presentation served various purposes. Twenty-two tablets contain inscriptions pertaining primarily to the receipt of and payment for goods and services-accounting records, in effect. Twelve tablets are school exercise tablets, used by scribes learning the cuneiform writing system
The Library of Congress acquired its collection of cuneiform materials in 1929 from Kirkor Minassian, an art dealer. These materials were part of his collection of Islamic bookbindings, manuscripts, textiles, and ceramic and metal objects illustrating the history of the development of writing and book arts in the Middle East.
“Cuneiform Tablets: From the Reign of Gudea of Lagash to Shalmanassar III” joins other world history collections available on the Library of Congress's Global Gateway Web site: http://international.loc.gov/intldl/intldlhome.html.
The presentation may be found under the heading: "Individual Digital Collections."
Please direct any questions regarding this collection to the Global Gateway inquiry form at: http://www.loc.gov/help/contact-international.html.
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