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Home > Auctions > 21st February 2023 > Mesopotamian Pictographic Administrative Tablet

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LOT 0167

GBP (£) 3,000 - 4,000
EUR (€) 3,390 - 4,520
USD ($) 3,700 - 4,930

Opening Bid
£2,700 (EUR 3,054; USD 3,327) (+bp*)

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Bid History: 0
2 5/8 in. (42 grams, 66 mm wide).

A bifacial, lentoid-section rectangular clay tablet with rounded corners and short sides, medial horizontal line to each face, with hand-drawn pictographs above and below, a count of sheep and caprids.

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.

This lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by search certificate no.11637-198551.

Cf. The Metropolitan Museum, accession number 1988.433.2, for similar.

Early writing was used primarily as a means of recording economic data; this tablet likely records deliveries and distributions of grain.
At the end of the 4th millennium B.C., written language developed in Mesopotamia as pictographs, later evolving into abstract forms called cuneiform. Pictographs were drawn in the clay with a pointed implement. Circular impressions alongside the pictographs represented numerical symbols. Cuneiform (meaning wedge-shaped) script was written by pressing a reed pen or stylus with a wedge-shaped tip into a clay tablet.