Introduction

Cornell University has a number of  collections of cuneiform tablets, donated to the university over the past century. These tablets are made of clay and inscribed with signs that modern scholars call cuneiform ("wedge or cone shaped"). They come from an area that is called Mesopotamia, which today roughly equals the territory of modern Iraq. These written documents date from the beginnings of writing, ca. 3350 B.C.E. until the end of the cuneiform tradition, sometime towards the end of the second century C.E.


The largest collection of cuneiform tablets at Cornell is housed in the Jonathan and Jeannette Rosen Ancient Near Eastern Studies Seminar in the Department of Near Eastern Studies (NES) and currently consists of ca. 9000 inscribed artifacts.  The curator of this substantial collection is David I. Owen, the Bernard and Jane Schapiro Professor of Ancient Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at the Department of Near Eastern Studies. The Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections of the Cornell University Library houses a smaller collection of about 194 tablets.


Cornell University is proud to collaborate with the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative at UCLA (CDLI), a project of an international group of Assyriologists, museum curators and historians of science to make available through the Internet the form and content of cuneiform tablets dating from the beginning of writing, ca. 3350 BCE, until the beginning of the Common Era.