The Blau monuments

Probably from southern Iraq
Late Prehistoric period, around 3100 BC

Stone tablets that may record the sale of land

The two stone tablets seem to form a pair, though it is not fully understood what they were used for, and what they mean. However, it is widely accepted that they record a transaction in which land was exchanged for various goods, with the carved figures representing the individuals involved. They thus represent an early form of Mesopotamian kudurru or boundary stone. The pictographs on the long pointed tablet appear to record the size of a field, while the half-moon-shaped tablet lists what seems to be the purchase price and/or additional payments.

The tablets, made of a slatey schist, were once thought to be fakes. However, clay tablets found in later excavations at the site of Uruk, in southern Mesopotamia, had similar archaic script. Other images of the carved figures helped to show that the Blau monuments were authentic.

The monuments are named after a previous owner, Dr A. Blau.

Find in the collection online

More information


I.J. Gelb, P. Steinkeller and R.M. Whiting, Earliest land tenure systems i (Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 1991)

D. Collon, Ancient Near Eastern art (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)


Length: 16.030 cm
Width: 7.620 cm
Length: 16.030 cm
Width: 7.620 cm

Museum number

ME 86260;ME 86261



Find in the collection online

Search highlights

There are over 4,000 highlight objects to explore