A Sumerian Foundation cone for Ishme-Dagan, King of Isin, circa 1953 BCE


Inscribed commemorative foundation cone of fired clay with Sumerian dedication text for the ruler Ishme-Dagan, ruler of the state of Isin (modern Ishan al-Bahriyat, Al-Qādisiyyah Governorate, Iraq) a city of lower Mesopotamia.  The inscription records the construction of the great wall of Isin, in honor of Enlil, the city god. The translation reads: ...

"Ishme-Dagan, mighty man, King of Isin, King of the Four Quarters (of the world) when he exempted the tax of Nippur, the city beloved by Enlil and took its populace away from forced labor, he built the wall of Isin, naming it "Ishme-Dagan, with Enlil, the might of the great god"

Clay cones, such as this example were inscribed with dedicatory inscriptions in many hundreds of duplicates and embedded in the walls of buildings with the head showing so future generations would know of a kings pious work. All the cones are hand-written, but they all have the same distribution of text in columns and on lines, showing that they were all copied from a standard exemplar. This text is written around the shaft of the cone, in twelve columns of equal length, leaving the remainder of the cone blank. The text records the building of the wall of Isin by Ishme-Dagan, after exempting the citizens from taxes and freeing them from corvee labor. Interestingly, the building of the great wall was not commemorated in any of the year names of Ishme-Dagan, which are identified exclusively by various cultic events.

Dimensions:  Height: 5 1/4 inches (13.3 cm)

Condition:  Tail rejoined otherwise complete and in very good condition overall with beautifully cut text.  Museum quality custom mount.

Provenance:  M. G. private collection, Maryland, acquired from the NY trade in 2001.

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