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Rare Cuneiform Inscription

Source: Otago Museum.

Otago Museum Media Release, Rare cuneiform inscription discovered in Otago Museum collection, 12 August 2015

Researchers have identified the writing on a 3,400 to 3,500-year-old cuneiform inscription in the Otago Museum collection as one of only five known inscription of Hašmar-Galšu, a ruler of the ancient Sumerian city of Nippur.

Assyriologists Wayne Horowitz and Peter Zilberg of The Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Larry Stillman of Monash University in Melbourne made the translation. All three researchers are part of the Cuneiform in Australia and New Zealand (CANZ) project, which aims to translate all cuneiform inscriptions in known New Zealand and Australian collections.

The dedicatory inscription on the Otago Museum piece is the same as those on the other inscriptions of Hašmar-Galšu, housed at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, the collections of Yale University and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, all in the United States.

The inscription speaks to the reconstruction work done on behalf of Hašmar-Galšu to the Ekur, the main temple of the god Enlil, the Sumerian King of the Gods, whose holy city is Nippur. A transcription of the inscription from the original Sumerian reads:

  1. mu-túm
    3. sig4 é-kur-ra na4
    4. dEn-líl-ra
    5. lugal-a-ni-ir

Which translates to:

  1. A gift
    of Hašmargalšu
    3. A stone slab of the Ekur
    4. for Enlil,
    5. his king.

The Otago Museum has about 150 cuneiform tablets and inscriptions in its collection, which makes it the largest known collection in the southern hemisphere.


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