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The Blau monuments


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

ME 86260;ME 86261

Room 56: Mesopotamia

    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.

    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)


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    On display: Room 56: Mesopotamia