Near East collections update

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You might have seen that we're currently preparing for the opening of the new Egypt gallery in December, however the antiquities team are also working with some of the Near Eastern collections. Ashley Cooke has more.

 


A sandy coloured tablet is examined using a magnifying glass and the inscriptions copied onto a sheet of A4 paper

Dr Cripps examines and copies the cuneiform on a tablet

For the past few years the museum has been receiving visits from Semitic scholar Dr Eric Cripps. Eric is producing a new edition of some forty-five cuneiform tablets from the Old Akkadian period (2210 BC), held in the Near Eastern  antiquities collection at World Museum. These tablets are over 4000 years old and were excavated in Iraq and purchased by the Honourable Arnold Keppel, 8th Earl of Albemarle, who was a Member of Parliament for Birkenhead. The museum purchased the collection in 1956.

The cuneiform script was invented in the fourth millennium BC. Cuneiform is a wedge-shaped script that was developed by Mesopotamian cultures. Mesopotamia is the area  located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, that now incorporates Iraq and parts of Iran, Syria and Turkey.

The museum has about 335 cuneiform tablets which is a sizeable amount for a museum outside of London. One tablet dates to the Early Dynastic Period (about 2900 - 2350 BC), 47 to the Akkadian Dynasty (about 2350 - 2150 BC) and over 200 to the Third Dynasty of Ur (2100 - 2000 BC). The Near East collection also includes other objects such as bricks and cones with cuneiform inscriptions. Eric's new edition of the Akkadian Dynasty tablets will provide hand drawn copies of each accompanied by transliterations, appropriate translations and full cataloguing. Eric's new edition should be published next year and will make a valuable contribution to Mesopotamian archaeology.

Ashley Cooke