Some comments on ancient language in “Drehem Tablets” in the British Museum

/ By: Balwin, Barry

There have not been any archaeological excavations at Drehem and all of the tablets that are currently in collections were dug up unofficially and sold on the antiquities market. As a consequence, there is inevitably some uncertainty about the provenience of these tablets. Jones states that the Drehem find was made, “presumably in 1909, but possibly as early as 1908. The discovery was publicly announced in 1910 by F. Thureau-Dangin, who published thirteen of the new texts.” The clear implication is that tablets that were acquired prior to 1908/9 could not have a provenience of Drehem. Sallaberger (1999: 201-202) goes further. He suggests that, with the exception of modest numbers of tablets from Nippur, all Ur III tablets purchased on the antiquities market with an acquisition date prior to 1910 almost certainly came from Girsu. He emphasises this point by stating that this was especially true of the large purchases of tablets by the British Museum in the 1890’s.
Keywords: Drehem tablets,  Ancient language, British Museum, historical texts