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Smith College collection of cuneiform tablets

 Collection
Identifier: MRBC-MS-00044

Scope and Contents

This collection of three hundred and seventy Babylonian clay tablets, excavated in Iraq, are largely legal and business records. In addition to receipts for grain, beverages, animals, slaves, and silver, there are letters, pay-lists, contracts, sales, leases,loans, partitions for inheritances, and ancient labels or tags. Written between 2700 and 500 B.C., the cuneiform tablets document early Mesopotamian culture.

Each tablet is in the Sumerian or Semitic Babylonian languages of the Near East.

Dates

  • approximately 2700-500 BCE

Creator

Language of Materials

Each tablet is in the Sumerian or Semitic Babylonian languages of the Near East.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Access

Until we move into New Neilson in early 2021, collections are stored in multiple locations and may take up to 48 hours to retrieve. Researchers are strongly encouraged to contact Special Collections (specialcollections@smith.edu) at least a week in advance of any planned visits so that boxes may be retrieved for them in a timely manner.

Conditions Governing Use

The materials in this collection are in the public domain. Researchers need not seek or secure permission to re-use or reproduce materials.

Extent

370 items (370 tablets)

4 items (4 digital objects)

Overview

This collection of three hundred and seventy Babylonian clay tablets was excavated in Iraq. They are largely legal and business records. In addition to receipts for grain, beverages, animals, slaves, and silver, there are letters, pay-lists, contracts, sales, leases,loans, partitions for inheritances, and ancient labels or tags. Written between 2700 and 500 B.C., the cuneiform tablets document early Mesopotamian culture.

Arrangement

Each tablet has been assigned a unique number, and they are arranged in numerical order in the cuneiform cabinet.

Other Finding Aids

This online finding aid currently includes descriptions only for the four tablets that have been digitally imaged. The other 366 tablets are described in a paper finding aid, as well as various guides and study aids including translations for some tablets, which are available in the Smith College Special Collections.

Cyrus H. Gordon described some of the tablets in his publication Smith College Tablets: 110 Cuneiform Texts Selected from the College, (Northampton, Mass.: Published by the Department of History of Smith College, 1952). His transcriptions and any further information that is known about each tablet have been included in the printed finding aid in the Mortimer Rare Book Collection.

See also Cuneiform documents in the Smith College Library by Elihu Grant(Haverford, Pa. : [publisher not identified], 1918) which includes descriptions of tablets numbered 252-255 and 257-274 of the Smith collection.

Custodial History

The tablets were probably excavated at sites in what is now Iraq and procured for Smith College by professors Irving F. Wood and Elihu Grant, beginning with twenty-three items in 1915.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The bulk of this collection was transferred from the Smith College department of religion and Biblical literature to the Mortimer Rare Book Room on May 10, 1993. Two tablets were donated to the MRBC by Staunton Williams, Jr., in 2014.

Existence and Location of Copies

Three-dimensional laser scans were created for four cuneiforms from this collection by Smith College student Madison Vincent (Class of 2019) and the Smith College Imaging Center. These are available for viewing online in SketchFab. Two-dimensional versions of these images can be viewed in Compass: Five College Digital Collections.

To obtain a high-resolution 3D laser scan of this object for research purposes, contact the Imaging Center at Smith College.

Creator

Source

Title
Finding aid for the Smith College collection of cuneiform tablets
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Edition statement
This is a partial version of the full finding aid, and describes only the tablets that have been digitized. A complete listing of the cuneiform collection exists in paper form in the Mortimer Rare Book Collection.

Repository Details

Part of the Mortimer Rare Book Collection Repository

Contact:
Young Library
4 Tyler Drive
Northampton MA 01063