Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object
{{img.publicCaption}}

Cuneiform tablet: a-she-er gi-ta, balag to Innin/Ishtar

Period:
Seleucid or Parthian
Date:
ca. 2nd–1st century B.C.
Geography:
Mesopotamia, probably from Babylon (modern Hillah)
Culture:
Seleucid or Parthian
Medium:
Clay
Dimensions:
3 7/8 x 3 1/4 x 1 in. (10 x 8.3 x 2.4 cm)
Classification:
Clay-Tablets-Inscribed
Credit Line:
Purchase, 1886
Accession Number:
86.11.286a
Not on view
This cuneiform tablet records part of a balag, a song of lament that accompanied a stringed instrument. The text is typical of the Seleucid period, where the words are written in Sumerian but with a large number of lines accompanied by an Akkadian translation. Sumerian was the language spoken in southern Mesopotamia until around 2000 B.C., while Akkadian had probably ceased to be a spoken language by the time this tablet was written, having been replaced by Aramaic and Greek throughout much of the Near East. However, both Sumerian and Akkadian continued to be written in cuneiform until the early centuries A.D. by learned scribes.

This tablet contains a lament by Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of fertility, over the destruction of her cities and shrines, and contrasts her present humiliation with her previous power. There are parallels with well-known myths dating from the late third and second millennia B.C.—such as the Sumerian version of the myth of Inanna's descent to the netherworld—demonstrating the very longlived literary tradition maintained by the temple scribes of Mesopotamia.
Acquired by the Museum in 1886, purchased from the Reverend William Hayes Ward.
Spar, Ira, and Wilfred G. Lambert. 2005. Cuneiform Texts in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Volume II: Literary and Scholastic Texts of the First Millennium B.C. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 7, pp. 57-64, pls. 12-13.
Related Objects

Cuneiform tablet: letter of Sin-sharra-ishkun to Nabopolassar

Date: ca. 2nd century B.C. Medium: Clay Accession: 86.11.370a, c–e On view in:Gallery 402

Cuneiform tablet: Utukku lemnutu, tablet 3

Date: ca. late 1st millennium B.C. Medium: Clay Accession: 86.11.468 On view in:Gallery 406

Cuneiform tablet: Utukku lemnutu, tablet 3

Date: ca. late 1st millennium B.C. Medium: Clay Accession: 86.11.379a, c–f On view in:Gallery 406

Cuneiform tablet: Utukku lemnutu, tablet 12

Date: ca. late 1st millennium B.C. Medium: Clay Accession: 86.11.486 On view in:Gallery 406

Cuneiform tablet: letter of Sin-sharra-ishkun to Nabopolassar

Date: ca. 2nd century B.C. Medium: Clay Accession: 86.11.383c–e On view in:Gallery 402