tablet and envelope Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Cuneiform Tablet and Envelope: Old Assyrian Letter
Work Type
c. 1927-1836 BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Asia, Kultepe (Cappadocia)
Bronze Age, Middle
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
tablet: 4.93 x 4.72 x 1.62 cm (1 15/16 x 1 7/8 x 5/8 in.)
envelope: 5.5 x 5.52 x 3.07 cm (2 3/16 x 2 3/16 x 1 3/16 in.)
Hans Silvius von Aulock, Istanbul; sold [through Christie's, New York, June 13, 2000, no.556] to Harvard University Art Museums.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Leslie Cheek, Jr. and Purchase through the generosity of Sol Rabin and the Marian H. Phinney Fund
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Square-shaped clay tablet and envelope inscribed with text written in the Old Assyrian dialect of the Akkadian language. The tablet is whole and inscribed on both surfaces. The envelope is partially destroyed, but preserves multiple impressions of the same seal. The tablet and envelope probably come from the trading colony (karum) by the mound of Kültepe (ancient Kanesh) near Kaiseri in Cappadocia (central Anatolia), from the period karum-Kanesh level II (c. 1927-1836 B.C.E).

The text is a letter (25 lines) between two copper traders, in which a certain Aššur-lamassi, from an unknown place in central Anatolia, informs a Šu-Belum in Kanesh that he is sending him silver as proceeds of his copper (7 talents, 30 minas), carried by an Iddi(n)-Su'en. Later on, silver for an additional 20 minas of copper will be added. The price for copper is 1 shekel of silver for 62 ½ shekels of copper. All the traders mentioned in this text are also noted in the archive of the well known copper trader Adad-S,ululi, son of Kuskusum/Šu-Anum, excavated in 1948 in the karum area of Kultepe (cf. J.G. Dercksen, The Old Assyrian Copper Trade in Anatolia. PIHANS 75. Leiden 1996, pp. 93-107). On the envelope, which is partially destroyed, the seal of the sender, Aššur-lamassi, is impressed eight times.

Information provided by Thomas Sturm, August 2007.
There are three pieces all together: the tablet and the envelope, which is in two pieces.
Exhibition History

32Q: 3620 University Study Gallery, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/04/2021 - 01/02/2022

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at