Click on "Index" on the left to select a new tablet to view. Click on "More Information" on the right to learn more about the object.

Items in the Tablets Collection

Flood Tablet
Early Mesopotamia was located in the fertile crescent, where floods were a relatively common occurrence in the region. This made the area sustainable enough to grow crops, and to build a civilization upon. This likely inspired the eleventh tablet in…

Gilgamesh Tablet
The Epic of Gilgamesh tells the tale of a great Uruk king, and is said to be the first and earliest work of literature. There are a total of twelve tablets that tell the story in continuation. This particular tablet shown is the second tablet of the…

Early Black Stone Tablet
Cuneiform started out more pictographic, but as time went on it became more and more abstract in appearance. This small black stone tablet displays a very early style of writing.

Mace Head/Letter Tablet
On one side of this small clay tablet, there is a very pictographic impression of a mace head. On the other, there is a letter written with a much more abstract style of writing. Someone found an old mace head with a 1000 year old inscription,…

Ice Cream Cone Foundation Peg
When temples were built, these ceremonial pegs would be driven into their foundations. The current king would have an inscription put on it, and then many years later when the temple had to be rebuilt, the peg would be removed and treated with…

Bitten Tablet
This tablet was just an ordinary school word list for copying until some child got a hold of it and bit it, either back when it was first created or when it was excavated. The question is, which is it? Penn Museum experts are split on the issue.

Solar Eclipse Tablet
Babylonians often sought out guidance and glimpses of their futures through science, math, and astronomy, making careful observations that would become a major legacy of their culture. By 1000 BCE, they were able to successfully predict lunar and…

Brick Stamp
Brick stamps were often used by rulers of Mesopotamia, in order to honor a specific god or to call for the protection of the building. The stamp itself is inscribed backward and then pressed into mud bricks, which are typically used for the…

Early Pictographic Stone Tablet
Stone was rarely used for these tablets; Mesopotamia was a civilization of clay. They had more clay than stone, so when stone was used for a cuneiform tablet, it was usually something of some degree of value and was put in the temple.

World's Oldest Medical Tablet
Excavated by Professor Samuel Noah Cramer in Nippur, this tablet contains fifteen different recipes for a series of ointments and potions. Unfortunately, there is no mention of the ailments that were to be cured by such treatments, but it shows that…