A large Babylonian cuneiform tablet, time of Hammurabi, ca. 1810 – 1750 BCE
Object No: MT1816
From the collection of Edgar J. Banks, who writes:
"Large pottery cuneiform tablet, found at Senkereh, the ruin of the Biblical city of Ellasar mentioned in Genesis 14:1. This is a crude written document consisting chiefly of numerals and appears to be a memorandum of some merchant. It is of sun-dried clay and it comes from the time of Hammurabi, King of Babylon shortly before 2000 B.C. This king is called Amraphel in the Old Testament, and a contemporary for the Biblical Abraham. It is of special interest, for it comes from the exact time when Abraham is supposed to have lived and shows the nature of the business documents at that time. Extensive cuneiform writing on all sides."
Amraphel was a king of Shinar (Sumer) in Book of Genesis 14:1 and 14:9 who invaded Canaan along with the kings Arioch, Chedolaomer, and Tidal under the leadership of Chedorlaomer, king of Elam. Chedorlaomer's coalition defeated Sodom and the other cities of the Plain in the Battle of the Vale of Siddim.
Condition: Minor chip on one corner and some lower corner erosion, otherwise intact, and in excellent condition overall. The collection number "7" painted on one side. A beautiful example. Presented on a museum quality custom mount.
Dimensions: Length: 2 1/2 inch (6.35 cm), Width: 2 inches (5 cm)
Provenance: Ex. Collection of Dr. Edgar J. Banks (1866-1945), Eustis, Florida, formerly Field Director of the Babylonian Expedition from the University of Chicago and a American Consul to Bagdad. Acquired by Mr. and Mrs. John E. Snyder in 1925. Donated to the Hershey Public Library and deaccessioned in 2018. This object is accompanied by a copy of the sales receipt and translations from Edgar J. Banks, dated June 2, 1925.
Edgar J. Banks was born May 23, 1866, in Sunderland, Massachusetts. He began his career as an American consul in Bagdad, Turkey, in 1897 and bought hundreds of cuneiform tablets on the market in the closing days of the Ottoman Empire, reselling them in small batches to museums, libraries, universities, and theological seminaries, several in Utah and the American Southwest and across the United States.
He served as acting professor of ancient history at Robert College in Constantinople in 1902/3, and as a private secretary to the American Minister to Turkey in 1903. In 1903 he served as field director of an expedition excavating the Babylonian ruin at Bismya for the University of Chicago. This work continued into 1906, after which he began lecturing on Babylonia, Arabia, and Turkey. In 1909 he took a position as professor of Oriental languages and archaeology at Toledo University. From 1921 until 1922, he served as director to Sacred Films, Inc., and as president of the Seminole Film Company. Mr. Banks died on May 5, 1945.
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