Inspired by the BBC's A History of the World in 100 Objects we list the one hundred most iconic inscribed objects from the Ancient Near East, objects that we think define the field. We hope that this list will help to engender conversations about these objects, to highlight the importance of cultural heritage protection, and to broaden the appeal of the field.
About the Objects
The objects are presented initially with very short descriptions and bibliographies. We do not list compositions, but rather unique objects, such as the Gudea Cylinders, or Sargon's Letter to Ashur. Assyriologists often mention key objects that inspire them or define their work, or that they believe rank high on the list of humanity's most important cultural heritage objects.We share one object on our list with that of MacGregor from the BM: the Flood Tablet. The early writing samples we list include a spectacular early Iranian tablet located in the Louvre; a key text from Jemdat Nasr recording field allotments to high-ranking members of society, today in the Ashmolean Museum; and an extraordinary example of the early intellectual exploits of man – a mathematical exercise tablet from Uruk, today in Heidelberg. Not all of the text artefacts we list are monumental, or even extraordinary. From the Ur III period we include, for example, the tiny receipt today in Yale's Babylonian Collection, that V.V. Struve used to prove the relationship between the accounts and the receipts of the Ur III bookkeeping system.
This list is a work in progress. Please email cdli.oxford with suggestions and pictures.