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The Blau Monuments

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (series)

    • The Blau Monuments
  • Description

    Green schist tablet; one of a pair; inscription; two figures on one side and four on the other. Though not fully understood, this pair of tablets seems to record a transaction in which land was exchanged for various goods, with the carved figures representing the individuals involved.

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 3300BC-3000BC
  • Materials

  • Dimensions

    • Length: 16.03 centimetres
    • Width: 7.62 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Comment

        Not fully understood; may record a transaction in which land was exchanged for various goods, with the carved figured representing the individuals involved.
  • Curator's comments

    Pair with 1899,0418.3 (BM.86261). The object was sent for moulding in the Cast Shop between 22 June and 26 August 1964 (WAA, 'Objects to Lab' book).Jones 1990
    The 'Blau monuments' (comment relating to registration no. 1899,0418.2-3)
    When these stone objects were presented to the British Museum in 1899 nothing like them was known and they were dismissed as 'two forgeries purporting to be Babylonian inscriptions'. As late as 1922 the Museum Guide hinted that there might be doubts as to their authenticity, but subsequent excavations in southern Mesopotamia have produced parallels which show them to be genuine early Sumerian objects with a date of around 2900 BC and among the earliest examples of the developing cuneiform script, still mainly pictographic. The two pieces appear to belong together and, as far as they can be read, seem to be a legal document recording the sale of a field and the details of the transaction.
    Their provenance is unknown, and they are called after an earlier owner, a Dr A. Blau, who lived for some time in southern Mesopotamia.

    Literature: M. E. L. Mallowan, 'Early Mesopotamia and Iran', London 1965, pp. 65-7.


  • Bibliography

    • Jones 1990a 322a bibliographic details
    • Aruz & Wallenfels 2003a no. 9, p. 39 bibliographic details
    • Guide 1900a p.135 bibliographic details
    • Reade 2000c p.81 bibliographic details
    • Barnett & Wiseman 1960a pp. 16-17, no. 5 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G56/dc3

  • Exhibition history


    2013-2014 3 Nov-21 Apr, Herne, LWL Museum fur Archaologie, 'Uruk: 5000 Years of the Megacity'

    2013 25 Apr-8 Sep, Berlin, Vorderasiatisches Museum, 'Uruk: 5000 Years of the Megacity'

    2003 5 May-17 Aug, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 'Art of the First Cities'

    2000 14 May-29 Oct, Germany, Berlin, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Seven Hills – Images and Signs of the 21st Century

    Babylonian & Assyrian Room, Table-Case D (1900 Guide)

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    1900 Guide states that these were presented by W Talbot Ready.

  • Department

    Middle East

  • BM/Big number


  • Registration number



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Object reference number: WCO24745

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