Height: 13.100 cm
Width: 13.300 cm
Room 56: Mesopotamia
Cuneiform tablet recording barley rations
1st Dynasty of Lagash, about 2350-2200 BC
From Tello (ancient Girsu), southern Iraq
Payment by the temple of the goddess Bau
This cuneiform tablet is a record in Sumerian of the distribution of barley as rations to about two hundred workmen and their children by the Temple of Bau. The goddess Bau (or Baba) was the wife of Ningirsu, the supreme god of the city Lagash. The temple referred to here was at Girsu, a town within the city-state of Lagash.
Temples were the largest employers at this time, often with hundreds of workers farming the land or weaving textiles. The text tells us that adults received a ration of thirty or forty sila (pints) per month, while children got twenty. According to the text, this was the fourth such distribution in the fourth year of Uruinimgina, king of Lagash (reigned about 2351-2342 BC). His wife Shasha played a major role in the administration of the Temple of Bau.
J.E. Reade, Mesopotamia (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)
J. Black and A. Green, Gods, demons and symbols of -1 (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)