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100 Most Important Cuneiform Objects

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.

The complete list (see above for more information):

1. Codex Hammurapi
2. The Bisitun Inscription
3. The Flood tablet
4. The Weld-Blundell Prism/Sumerian King List
5. The Cyrus Cylinder
6. The Stele of Vultures
7. The Manishtushu Obelisk
8. Complex surface calculations at Jemdet Nasr
9. Sargon’s letter to Ashur
10. Pythagorean Triples
11. The Middle Assyrian Laws, A
12. The Cylinders of Gudea
13. Treaty between Hattushili III and Ramesses
14. The Macehead of Mesilim
15. The Black Obelisk
16. Bassetki statue
17. The Ebla sign-list
18. The Statue of Idrimi
19. Banquet Stela of Ashurnasirpal II
20. The Largest Account of the archaic period
21. La figure Aux Plumes
22. The Old Assyrian Limmu list
23. The Reforms of UruKAgina
24. L'architecte au plan
25. The Umma-Lagash border conflict
26. A letter of the Mittanian king Tushratta to Pharoah Amenhotep
27. The Blau Monuments
28. The earliest known mathematical exercise
29. The laws of Ur-Nammu
30. An early literary catalogue
31. How to read signs (diri:SI.A : watru prisms)
32. Tiglath-pilesar’s annalistic text
33. The succession treaty of Esarhaddon
34. The Descent of Ishtar to the Netherworld
35. The Taylor Prism (Sennacherib’s siege of Jerusalem)
36. A tablet on Epilepsy
37. Venus tablet of Ammisaduqa
38. The Tale of the Poor Man of Nippur
39. Sargon’s birth legend
40. A bilingual statue from Tell Fekheriye
41. A cylinder of Nabonidus
42. The Shamash Tablet
43. 58 designations for swine
44. The Ushumgal Stela
45. The large God-list from Fara
46. A collection of proverbs
47. Enki loves the love-charm
48. A large account of a basketry and carpentry workshop
49. Receipt shown by V.V. Struve to relate to year-end’s account
50. The growth of a herd of cattle
51. Your money or your life
52. A temple plan
53. Old Assyrian Sargon legend
54. Old Assyrian testimony
55. Gilgamesh P
56. The political landscape after the Mari archives
57. Agushaya A
58. The Mari ritual of Eštar
59. Prayer to the Gods of the Night
60. A Song of Praise to Amurru
61. The Daiva inscription of Xerxes
62. A cross for the bull-man
63. A literary catalogue
64. Astrolabe B
65. Middle Assyrian literary catalogue
66. The pedestal of Tukulti-Ninurta I
67. Zodiac compilation tablet
68. Graeco-Babyloniaca
69. Lord Aberdeen’s Black Stone
70. Ninurta-paqidat’s dog bite
71. The Ugaritic Baal Myth, tablet four
72. Proof of the Sumerian UD.GAL.NUN cryptography
73. Ashurbanipal praising his education
74. The Diviner's Ritual
75. Paleography exercise CTN 4, 229
76. Lamentation over the Destruction of Lagash
77. Tablet I of the Creation Myth
78. Old Babylonian list of deities
79. Mathematical text BM 13901
80. Squareroot of 2 (Yale)
81. Babylonian map of world
82. Nippur Map
83. Circular "Astrolabes"
84. Foundation Tablet in Gold
85. East India Company Inscription
86. Tiglat-pileser prism
87. Emar Foot imprint of child
88. Ebla diplomatic letter (Ennadaggan)
89. The Old Elamite Treaty of Naram-Sin
90. Aramaic incantation in cuneiform
91. UPenn tablet with bite-marks of student
92. Till Tuba Reliefs
93. standard inscription of Assurnasirpal II
94. Alphabet tablet from Ugarit
95. Tell Leilan treaty
96. Nebuchadnesar's destruction of Jerusalem
97. astronomical diary mentioning Alexander's entry into Babylon
98. Rules for a gaming board
99. earliest known medical tablet
100. Old Babylonian account of the great revolt against Naramsin

Runners up:

  • Mul-Apin
  • Enuma Anu Enlil
  • The Zimri-Lim Epic
  • L'inscription de fondation de Tiš-atal d'Urkiš
  • Esagila tablet (AO 6555)
  • Finding old inscriptions (CBS 16106)
  • Barton Cylinder (CBS 8383)
the_one_hundred_most_important_cuneiform_objects.txt · Last modified: 2017/04/27 21:01 by dahl
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