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Home > Auctions > 6th September 2022 > Mesopotamian Decorated Bulla Envelope Containing Tokens

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LOT 0194

GBP (£) 2,500 - 3,500
EUR (€) 2,990 - 4,180
USD ($) 3,050 - 4,260

Opening Bid
£1,350 (EUR 1,614; USD 1,644) (+bp*)

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Bid History: 0

A spherical ceramic bulla envelope containing multiple clay tokens which can be heard rattling inside; stylised ibexes, lions and horses on the envelope. 2 1/8 in. (73 grams, 55 mm).

Specialised collection of cuneiform texts, the property of a London gentleman and housed in London before 1992.
Thence by descent to family members.
Examined by Professor Wilfrid George Lambert FBA (1926-2011), historian, archaeologist, and specialist in Assyriology and Near Eastern archaeology, in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
The collection is exceptional for the variety of types, including some very rare and well preserved examples.
Accompanied by a copy of a illustrated typed catalogue page.
This lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by AIAD certificate no.11336-190924.

This bulla envelope likely belonged to the Sumerian or Uruk culture.
It is believed that there are less than 250 complete and fragmentary examples of this type of bulla envelope worldwide. This is one of only a handful of examples ever offered at auction. The bulla first emerged in Mesopotamia around 8000 B.C. The clay envelopes contain a number of pre-baked accounting tokens, which were used in commercial and stock-taking transactions. Placing the tokens inside the bulla greatly enhanced the honesty of the transaction, as the bulla would have to be broken or crushed to reveal its contents.