This book is the initial publication in a four-volume series on the collection of cuneiform tablets and inscriptions in the Metropolitan Museum's Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art. It is a scholarly study of objects acquired largely during the 1880s, when the Metropolitan became the first American museum to acquire a substantial number of cuneiform texts. Today the Museum's collection totals more than five hundred texts and fragments; the publication of these volumes will make these texts available in a manner that will instruct and inform as wide an audience as possible.
Cuneiform Texts in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Volume I: Tablets, Cones, and Bricks of the Third and Second Millennia B.C. presents 120 commercial texts, legal texts, and letters, along with cones and bricks, from ancient Mesopotamia. This material is offered in both transliteration and translation, with drawings and selected photographs of the tablets as well as descriptions, drawings, and photographs of the seal impressions appearing on them.
Features of special interest in this volume include the presentation of Sumerian ledger-account translations in modern accounting formats; allocations for the royal family of the Sumerian king Sulgi of the Third Dynasty of Ur; an Old Babylonian military confrontation with the Kassites, as disclosed in correspondence; Old Assyrian correspondence involving smuggling, moth-eaten textile shipments, legal testimony, and a caravan report presented in both textual translation and modern-ledger format; as well as new collations and translations of Amarna-period royal correspondence.
Ira Spar is the editor of the Museum's cuneiform-tablet project, with a distinguished international group of collaborators assisting in the preparation of the texts. Each scholar has prepared manuscripts within his respective field of expertise, and hand copies of the tablets and seal inscriptions have been drawn by Dr. Spar.
The inclusion in this volume of a comprehensive catalogue of the seal impressions on the tablets and cases illustrates the Museum's interest in publishing these works of art in their original context. The seal impressions are presented with brief commentary together with photographs and scale drawings prepared by Holly Pittman, Associate Curator in the Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art at the Metropolitan Museum.
The second volume of this series will contain the literary and scholastic texts from the second millennium B.C. to the first century A.D.; the third volume will present the administrative, commercial, and legal tablets from the first millennium B.C. A final short volume will contain all cuneiform inscriptions found on objects in the Museum's collections.