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Lot 2328: Western Asiatic Late Babylonian Important Court Case Tablet

Antiquities: Day 4

by TimeLine Auctions

December 9, 2016

London, United Kingdom

Live Auction
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Description: Dated 8 February, 416 BC. A bifacial clay tablet with cuneiform text on four sides, two stamped seal impressions to an edge, accompanied by an old scholarly note, typed and signed by W.G.Lambert, late Professor of Assyriology, University of Birmingham, 1970-1993, which states: Clay Tablet, 72 x 87 mm, with 27 Lines of Late Babylonian Cuneiform Script. This tablet is joined from two pieces and much of the left side of the tablet is missing, and with it the beginnings of some lines. It is dated in the final lines to: Month Shabat, 15th day, 7th year of Darius, king of the lands. This is not self-explanatory, since there were in fact three kings Darius within the period of the Persian Empire, but comparison with previously published tablets of the period leaves no doubt that Darius II is meant, and from this datum the ancient date can be rendered into our calendar as 8 February, 416 B.C. The content is arranged according to the sides of the tablet. The 17 lines on obverse and lower edge give an account of a court case, and the first eight lines on the reverse give a list of witnesses, the last two at the bottom of the reverse give so far obscure matter in the first, but the second is well preserved and has just been translated. The substance of the court case cannot be grasped in detail due to deficiencies in the lines but it was involved with a large quantity of barley. The quantity of 500 kurru is twice mentioned, and since a kurru was about 150 litres this is a huge quantity of the cereal. At another point a quantity of 97 kurru is named. It appears that ownership of this barley was in dispute, or terms of borrowing, and the court settled the matter and required the disputants not to dispute the matter ever again. The location of the disputants is not certain, though a town or village called B?t-Sîn-ibni is mentioned once but it seems not to be known elsewhere. The list of witnesses is better preserved than the legal text, and the first lines have an interesting piece of information: [Witnesses: ...]gini, servant of Gubari, B?l-ittannu, son of Nabunna, Gubari was a high official of the Persian Empire at this time, and it is significant that a servant of his is named as the first witness. It is elsewhere extremely rare for a witness to be identified by his own name and the phrase servant of Mr. .... The father’s name is normally, as in the second witness here, given for identification. Thus we have confirmation that the official Gubari was occupying a high place in the governement of Babylonia at this time. The seals of the conflicting parties of this case were impressed on the tablet: one on the reverse by the list of witnesses: a ring seal showing a large standing bird such as a flamingo, with caption Ring-seal of B?l-uballit. On the upper edge the first is a ring seal, not clearly impressed also with a caption naming its owner as Shamash-ittannu. The second shows the front parts of a lion facing a boar, very fine art, with caption Ring seal of Iddina-B?l. The third is a cylinder seal showing a standing worshipper with big beard and wearing a long robe raising his hand to a scorpion-man, with caption „Seal of Nana-iddina“. There are feint traces of a final ring seal on the upper edge, but the caption is clear: Ring seal of Kidinnu. More seals were impressed on the left-hand edge, but only traces remain. 225 grams, 87mm (3 1/2"). From a London collection, formed in the 1980s.

Condition Report: Fine condition, repaired.

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