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HOME : Near Eastern Art : Cuneiform Tablets : Foundation Cone With Cuneiform Inscription
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Foundation Cone With Cuneiform Inscription - PF.5770
Origin: Mesopotamia
Circa: 2120 BC
Dimensions: 4.25" (10.8cm) high
Collection: Ancient Writings
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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Dedicatory inscriptions by rulers of the Neo-Sumerian period commemorating the construction of a building were written on clay in the form of thick cones, also called “nails” because of their flat heads.  Multiples were produced with identical inscriptions and were embedded into the walls of the new buildings they memorialize.

This foundation cone is in honor of Gudea, the Governor of Lagash.  In his inscriptions, Gudea related the many pious building projects he carried out and dedicated to the divinities of the city.  The building of the Eninnu, from which this cone comes, seems to have been the greatest project of his reign.  Two hymns, each written on a large clay nail, recount different stages of its construction:

“For the god Ningirsu, the mighty warrior of Enlil, for his King Gudea, governor of Lagash, a resplendent marvel the Eninnu Temple-Brilliant Lion-Headed Eagle, he built and restored (to its former condition).”

Although time has ravaged the ruins of the earliest human civilizations centered in Mesopotamia, we are still able to appreciate the range and beauty of their achievements through the artifacts that survive.  This foundation cone continues to extol the wisdom and prosperity of Gudea thousands of years later.
- (PF.5770)


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