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Protoliterate Tablet
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Protoliterate Tablet

Description Exhibitions Provenance Inscription Credit
Description From a unique group of early documents recording the transfer of land (in this case one "bur'u," which is around 157 acres), this tablet illustrates the transition from a writing system based on pictures to one where signs represent sounds. The vase and foot are easily recognized but represent sounds rather than objects. In the bottom row, the two wavy lines sprouting plants is the sign for garden.
  • In Search of Ancient Treasure: 40 Years of Collecting. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1978.
  • Highlights from the Collection. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1998-2001.
Provenance Henry Walters, Baltimore, by 1909 [mode of acquisition unknown]; Sadie Jones (Mrs. Henry Walters), New York, 1931, by inheritance; Joseph Brummer, Paris and New York, 1941, by purchase [Brummer inv. no. N5009]; Walters Art Museum, 1941, by purchase.
Inscriptions [Inscription] On obverse [For transcription, see]
Credit Museum purchase [formerly part of the Walters Collection], 1941

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ca. 3100-2900 BCE (Late Uruk; Early Dynastic I-II)
red stone
Accession Number
H: 2 5/8 x W: 2 5/8 x 7/8 in. (6.6 x 6.6 x 2.3 cm)


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