Monthly Archives: October 2010

The John Frederick Lewis Collection of Cuneiform Tablets

John Frederick Lewis (1860-1932) was a Philadelphia collector of writing examples: he was interested in the history of the written word and amassed some of the most significant collections in the United States. A man of modest means who could … Continue reading

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Age and Origin of the Tablets

Nearly 1200 tablets are from the Ur III kingdom of Babylon, but there are tablets from Sumer, Akkad, and other Babylonian kingdoms. The tablets in this exhibition fall into the following categories: 1. Royal inscriptions, which include building of temples, … Continue reading

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Mesopotamia

Mesopotamia is a word of Greek origin that means “between the rivers.”  It lay between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, in what is now Iran and Iraq. The very first civilizations known to man emerged and flourished in this part … Continue reading

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Sumer

The existence of Sumer was only discovered in the latter part of the nineteenth century.  The archaeologists who discovered it were looking for artifacts from ancient Babylonia and Assyria.  Greek and Hebrew sources mention the Babylonians and Assyrians, but Sumerians … Continue reading

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Babylon

The city of Babylon gave its name to two important periods in Mesopotamian history. The First Dynasty of Babylon, from around 1894 until 1595 B.C.E., was founded by Sumu-abum. Eventually it encompassed the regions of Larsa, Isin, Eshnunna, and Assyria. … Continue reading

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The Development of Writing

Late Uruk and Jemdet Nasr periods (3300-2900 B.C.E.) The earliest writing in the history of mankind was developed at the end of the fourth millennium B.C.E. in what is now southern Iraq. At this time, Mesopotamia was dominated by the … Continue reading

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Writing in Clay

First, clay would be unearthed where it naturally occurred.  It would be washed clean of impurities and debris. A scribe (writer) would write in the soft clay with a stylus made from a reed.  The tablet dried quickly in the … Continue reading

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