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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 Itur-ili / to Ennam-Aszszur / say: 8 minas of tiri-silver / I gave you / 8 minas of tiri-silver / under my seal Saharli / and Azu have brought you; / in all, 16 minas have come to you. / Why is it that / for yourself / you have made every shekel of gold / that you could / and sent it here, / but you have sent nothing to me? / This is important: / buy for the 16 minas of silver / some red gold for smelting / and send it to me with your servant! / This is important: / a dishonest man / must not cheat you! / To drink / do not succumb! / White gold: / Do not involve yourself. / You must know that there is / a lot of white gold here.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters, 1913

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ca. 1850-1700 BC (Old Assyrian)
baked clay
Accession Number
1 7/8 x 1 11/16 x 5/8 in. (4.8 x 4.4 x 1.7 cm)


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