Ancient Clay Tablet On Display

A Bronze Age clay tablet dating from around 2040 B.C. is now on display at Rasmuson Library at the University of Alaska FairbanksA Bronze Age clay tablet dating from around 2040 B.C. is now on display at Rasmuson Library. It is the oldest item in the library, and how it arrived is a mystery.

The 4-centimeter-square tablet is on extended display on the library’s main level (4) and can be viewed during regular hours.

Called an “Ur III tablet,” it records a transaction for the threshing of 2,000 bushels of barley at the Da-bad mill in the town of Umma, Sumer, in the Mesopotamian region, now southern Iraq. Da-bad translates as “side of the (great) wall.” The tablet was likely sold sometime between 1943 and 1967. The box in which it is stored offers no clues except the name of a rare book dealer in New York City who is no longer living. The tablet was donated to the library sometime before 1982.

You can find photographs and additional information on the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative at http://bit.ly/1ZZ4gvQ.

For more information, contact Katherine Arndt, Assistant Professor and Bibliographer and Curator of Rare Books, Rasmuson Library, at 907-474-6671, or klarndt@alaska.edu.

This page was last modified on February 22, 2016