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Business Letter
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Business Letter

Description Conservation Exhibitions Provenance Inscription Credit
Description Around 20,000 clay tablets were found at the site of Kültepe (ancient Kanesh). Such a large find indicates that the city had an extensive commercial quarter, where foreign Assyrian merchants lived and operated during the 19th century BC. Sent from Itur-ili in Assyria to Ennam-Ashur in Kanesh, this letter concerns the important trade in precious metals. Itur-ili, the senior partner, offers wise words of advice to Ennam-Ashur: "This is important; no dishonest man must cheat you! So do not succumb to drink!"
Date Description Narrative
  • Shrunken Treasures: Miniaturization in Books and Art. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2009.
Provenance Dikran Kelekian, Paris and New York [claims found at Caesarea]; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1913, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Inscriptions [Translation from composite text of Cuneiform Digital Library, M. Trolle Larsen. Festschrift Lubor Matous. Edited by Blahoslav Hruška,and Géza Komoróczy. Budapest: Eotvos Lorand Tudomanyegytem, 1978.] From Itur-ilī / to Ennam-Aššur / say: 8 minas of tiri-silver / I gave you, / 8 minas of tiri-silver / under my seal Saḫarli / and Azu brought to you; / in all, 16 minas have come to you. / Why is it that / for yourself gold, / each shekel you made and [erasure at end of line] / you sent here, but [erasure at end of line] / to me nothing [erasure at end of line] /you sent? [erasure at end of line] / This is important: for / the 16 minas of silver red gold / for smelting / buy and with your servant / send to me! This is important: / a dishonest man / must not cheat you! To / drinking yourself / do not give! To white gold / your hand/ do not lift. / You may not know that white tin / is plentiful here. []
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters, 1913

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ca. 1840–ca. 1730 BCE (Assyrian Colony)
clay, hand made; impressed
Accession Number
H: 1 7/8 × W: 1 3/4 × D: 11/16 in. (4.8 × 4.4 × 1.7 cm)


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