Student Tablets


In Sumer, privileged boys, usually sons of scribes, went to scribal school and learned how to write on clay. The graduates of scribal schools became high-level government officials and administrators.

Many student tablets are marked with thumbprints and even tooth marks.  It is thought by scholars that the thumbprints were made by teachers who were correcting impressions.

There are four shapes to student tablets:

1.      clay prisms and large multi-column tablets at 20 cm. or less;

2.      medium-sized tablets with a teacher’s model text on a left-side column and        student text on the right (usually 15 cm. or less);

3.      rectangular tablets with one column containing literary or lexical texts; and

4.      the most common, round or “lentil” tablets, which can be seen in this     display case.

Lentil tablets usually have an extract from a lexical or literary compositions on the back, written as a teacher’s example.  Also, note that the characters are much larger than on the professional tablets displayed in this exhibition.

Archaeologists uncovered buildings that are presumed to have been schools, as there were numerous student tablets in those locations, and there was evidence of water basins for erasing the tablets, as well as discarded exercise tablets.

FLP 2060, 2097, 2098, 2062, 2075, 2067, 2121, 2088, 2092

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About freelibraryrbd

The Rare Book Department is in the Parkway Central Library of the Free Library of Philadelphia.
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