About the Collection
This collection consists of six Sumerian Cuneiform Tablets, a translation by Edgar J. Banks, research and manuscript material. Five of the tablets are approximately 1.5" x 1.5" in size. The tablets come from Ancient Mesopotamia, a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris-Euphrates river system, in the northern part of the Fertile Crescent, corresponding to most of modern day Iraq, Kuwait, the eastern parts of Syria, and Southwestern Turkey. The translation found with the tablets provides only general information about each tablet: date, place found, and general description. The translations state that three of the tablets are records of receipt for temple offerings, one a sealed temple record and one contract or business document.
South Dakota State College President Willis E. Johnson, who was president of South Dakota State College from 1919 to 1923, purchased the tablets from Edgar James Banks in 1923 for $26.00.
The sixth tablet is 4 inches wide x 6.5 inches long. This tablet was transferred to the archives from the South Dakota Agricultural Heritage Museum. A label affixed to the tablet reads: Egyptian Prescription given me by Daphne Serles and had belonged to Dr. Earl Serles. This script was misidentified as Egyptian hieroglyphics but is indeed Sumerian Cuneiform. This tablet has no transcription.
The finding aid to the collection contains a listing of the cuneiform tablets housed in the SDSU Archives. It also includes the original transcript done by Edgar Banks and additional collected material about cuneiform tablets. Contact the SDSU Archives for more information.
Images of the cuneiform tablets are available on the Digital Library of South Dakota.
New Boxes for the Cuneiform Tablet Collection
Generous Friends of the Hilton M. Briggs Library donated suspension boxes for the cuneiform tablets. These boxes allow students to safely handle and see at all sides of the tablets.
If you would like see the tablets, please contact the SDSU Archives.
Cuneiform tablet being placed in its new box
Crystal Gamradt, archivist, is placing the tablet into a a suspension box.
Box for the boxes
The suspension boxes are stored in an oversized boxes and held in place to eliminate any movement within the box.
About Cuneiform Tablets
The Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative ( CDLI ) is a collaboration of the University of California, Los Angeles, University of Oxford, and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin. The CDLI added descriptions of the tablets on their Found Texts website. Tablets 1 and 2 are from the Puzriš-Dagan (mod. Drehem) provenience and dated to the Ur III (ca. 2100-2000BC) period. Tablets 5 and 4 are from the Umma (mod. Tell Jokha) provenience and dated to the Ur III (ca. 2100-2000 BC) period. The provenience of Tablet 5 is uncertain and is dated to the Old Babylonian (ca. 1900-1600 BC) period. The CDLI did not analyze Tablet 6.