Cornell University has two major collections of cuneiform tablets in the Sumerian and Babylonian languages, donated or loaned to the university over the past century. These tablets are made of clay and inscribed with signs that modern scholars call cuneiform ("wedge shaped"). They come from an area that is called Mesopotamia, which today roughly equals the territory of modern Iraq. The written documents in the collections date from the beginnings of writing, ca. 3350 BCE through the 5th century BCE.


The largest collection of cuneiform tablets at Cornell is housed in the Jonathan and Jeannette Rosen Ancient Near Eastern Studies Seminar and Tablet Conservation Laboratory in 726 University Avenue, #103, Cornell University and currently consists of ca. 10,000 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, Emeritus in 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. These collections are being published in David I. Owen, Editor-in-Chief, Cornell University Studies in Assyriology and Sumerology (CUSAS), Bethesda: CDL Press, 2007ff.


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, content, and photos of cuneiform tablets dating from the beginning of writing, ca. 3350 BCE, until the beginning of the Common Era.