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Tyne and Wear HER(14019): South Shields, Arbeia Museum, cuneiform tablet - Details

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S Tyneside

South Shields, Arbeia Museum, cuneiform tablet

South Shields


Religious Ritual and Funerary

Inscribed Stone


Neolithic/Bronze Age


The tablet is held by Arbeia Museum. It came to Arbeia in 1989 but it is unknown when it was donated to Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums or by whom. It came from Mesopotamia (Iraq) - the homeland of the 4th century garrison of Arbeia. Cuneiform was commonly written on baked and unbaked clay tablets. The tablets are usually small enough to hold in the hand. Early ones were oval, later ones rectangular. The stylus was made from a reed. Cuneiform was used from c.3500 BC to 1900 BC. The South Shields tablet is of a form common between 3000 and 1500 BC. Multiple copies were made to commemorate major building projects and were deposited in the foundations. The South Shields tablet reads 'EN.ZU-Ka-Si-id [Si n-Kasid] nita-Kala-ga [mighty man] Lugal-unu.Ki-ga [King of Uruk] Lugalam-na-nu-um [King of the Amnanum] (u-a)-e-an-na [provider of Eanna] e-g [al] [nam-lugal-la-ka-ni] m[u-du] [built his royal palace]. The Palace of Sin-kaid was located at Uruk in southern Mesopotamia. Scores of baked clay tablets and cones were found built into the mud foundations. E-anna (house of the heavens) is the temple of the goddess Inanna and god Ishtar of love.




R. Ibrahim, 2009, The Journey of the Arbeia Cuneiform Tablet in Arbeia Magazine, No. 39, summer 2009, pp 21-23; R.S. Ellis, Foundation Deposits in Ancient Mesopotamia, p 94

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