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Tablet Recording a Business Letter
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Tablet Recording a Business Letter

Description Provenance Inscription Credit
Description This square, red clay tablet is densely covered on all sides in a cuneiform text that was read from left to right. The tablet records a business transaction between Luzina in Kanesh and Miššu-rabi and Ennum-Aššur in Assyria. Miššu-rabi and Ennum-Aššur are sending materials to Luzina, including silver, so-called sea-gold, gold, textiles, and three donkeys, one of which is dead. Around 20,000 clay tablets dating to the 2nd millennium BCE have been discovered at Kültepe (ancient Kanesh), Turkey, which was near Kayseri (ancient Caesarea) where this tablet is said to have been found. During this period, Kanesh had a large commercial quarter and was part of a network of Assyrian trade colonies. Many tablets found at Kanesh are letters recording business transactions between Kanesh and Assyria in northern Mesopotamia. They were enclosed in clay envelopes and impressed with stamp or cylinder seals. These letters provide a glimpse into everyday life in the ancient Near East during the beginning of the 2nd millennium BCE, illustrating complex economic and social interactions between Assyria and its colonies.
Provenance Dikran Kelekian, Paris and New York [date and mode of acquisition unknown] [said to be from 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.] To Luzina/ from Miszszu-rabi/ and Ennum-Aszszur:/ 3 1/3 minas 6 shekels of silver/ and 1/2 mina 2?/3 shekel of sea-gold/ converted at the rate 6:1/ to silver; further,/ 3 shekels of gold from ore,/ converted at the rate 8:1/ Under the seal of Miszszu-rabi:/ Amurrum-bani,/ son of Szumma-libbi-ilija,/ this brings (him) to you./ Further, 1/2 mina 4 shekels,/ the price of two donkeys,/ the same man brings to you./ One donkey is dead. Two donkeys/ 6 saddle-skins , 3 bags,/ 3 zurzu-containers, 3 sacks/ for packing purposes/ Galga brings to you./ your good [...]/ plus the textiles into Szalatuwar/ we shall bring (them)./ We shall set out again/ when we are cleared. []
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters, 1913

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ca. 1840-1730 BCE (Assyrian Colony)
clay, hand made; impressed
Accession Number
H: 2 1/16 × W: 2 1/4 × D: 11/16 in. (5.3 × 5.7 × 1.7 cm)
  • Turkey, Cappadocia (Place of Origin)
  • Turkey, Kültepe (Place of Discovery)
  • Turkey, Kültepe, Kayseri (Kanesh) (Place of Discovery)
Location Within Museum
Not On View


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