April 2014 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Cuneiform at Auction

Capping off Rare Book Week on April 9, Doyle NY will offer this Babylonian cuneiform cylinder, estimated to bring $300,000-500,000. The clay cylinder describes the rebuilding of the Temple of Shamash by Nebuchadnezzar II and dates to c. 604-562 BC. At 8 1/4" in length, the auctioneer states that it is the largest example to come to market in recent times. For a private collector or an institution, it is an opportunity to own a unique piece of ancient history. It last exchanged hands in 1953.

Cuneiform.jpgCuneiform is one of the earliest systems of writing, and this piece would have been prepared by a court scribe and then buried in the foundation of the restored temple to seal the relationship between the king and the gods. This record reads, in part, "NEBUCHADNEZZAR, King of Babylon, the Wise, the Provider, Favorite of Marduk, Sakkanakku of the lands of Sumer and Akkad, who established the foundation of the lands; the Venerated Ruler whom Marduk, the Great Lord, has chosen to renew the Holy Sanctuaries and maintain the cities as his calling: into whose hands Nebo, the Victorious Son gave the scepter of prosperity to extend the lands for Man's guidance; the understanding and reverent, the maintainer of E-sagila and E-zida; the first-born Son of Nabopolassar, King of Babylon am I."

Image via Doyle NY.

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