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Database of Neo-Sumerian Texts (BDTNS)
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Third Millennium Cuneiform Texts in the British Museum

The British Museum is well known for of its impressive collection of ca. 150,000 cuneiform tablets kept in its Department of the Middle East, the world’s largest collection after the one held by the Iraq Museum (Baghdad). Texts of all periods, from almost everywhere in ancient Mesopotamia and the Levant, and in every literary genre, are well represented. A significant section of this collection comprises Sumerian and Akkadian third-millennium tablets, ca. 30,000 of them dated to the Neo-Sumerian period (or Ur III, ca. 2110-2004 B.C.) plus 682 from earlier periods.

       Manuel Molina’s work at the British Museum began in 1995, thanks to two successive three-year research projects funded by the Spanish Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia: “Edition and study of Sumerian cuneiform tablets in the British Museum” (PB94-1156) and “Edition of Neo-Sumerian cuneiform tablets from Umma kept in the British Museum” (PB97-1243). The main results of these projects appeared in two books:

  1. M. Molina, Testi amministrativi Neosumerici del British Museum. BM 13601-14300. Materiali per il Vocabolario Neosumerico 22. Rome: Bonsignori Editore, 2003 (248 pp. + XXXIV pl.). ISBN 88-7597-384-9. [BDTNS link]

  2. M. Molina and M. Such-Gutiérrez, Neo-Sumerian Administrative Texts in the British Museum. BM 107926-108315. Nisaba. Studi Assiriologici Messinesi 9. Messina: Di.Sc.A.M., 2005 (312 pp.). ISBN 88-8268-010-X. [BDTNS link]

This research at the British Museum continued over the years, and since 2009 it has been funded by the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación / Economía y Competitividad through two consecutive projects:

  • FFI2008-00996/FILO. “Libraries, archives and books in Mesopotamia: edition and cataloguing of cuneiform texts from the British Museum, Vorderasiatisches Museum and the University Museum (Philadelphia)”. PI: M. Molina. Host institution: CSIC. Funding: €175,450. Duration: From 2009/01/01 to 2011/12/31.

  • FFI2011-23981. “Libraries, archives and books in Mesopotamia: edition and cataloguing of cuneiform texts from the British Museum, Vorderasiatisches Museum and the University Museum (Philadelphia). Part Two”. PI: M. Molina. Host institution: CSIC. Funding: €106,480. Duration: From 2012/01/01 to 2014/12/31.

Within the framework of these two projects, the research by M. Molina focused on the digitization, cataloguing, collation, transliteration and study of: a) all cuneiform tablets in the British Museum dated to the Archaic, Early Dynastic, Old Akkadian and Lagaš II periods, published and as yet unpublished; and b) the Ur III collection, with special attention to the large lots of tablets purchased by the museum from Elias Gejou (1913-4-16 and 1914-4-4).

       The results of these projects as regards third-millenium cuneiform tablets from the British Museum are partly available through the BDTNS website, where the following texts can be consulted:

Uruk IV-III:
16 texts
Early Dynastic I-II:
239 texts
35 texts
(4 unpublished)
29 texts
(1 unpublished)
288 texts
(61 unpublished)
82 texts
(74 unpublished)
28,738 texts
(6,799 unpublished)
(10,329 published only in CBT 1-3 catalogues)

Transliterations and photos of certain unpublished texts will not be publicly available as long as they are not published in paper. An edition of all the unpublished pre-Ur III texts, including collations of tablets published so far, is being prepared by M. Molina and Massimo Maiocchi. An edition of ca. 400 new Ur III texts is in preparation by M. Molina and Palmiro Notizia.

       Besides the above-mentioned books, other publications resulting from these projects that include Ur III text editions are the following:

  1. M. Molina, “Neo-Sumerian Letter-Orders in the British Museum. I”, in M. Molina, I. Márquez Rowe and J. Sanmartín (eds.), Arbor Scientiae. Estudios del Próximo Oriente Antiguo dedicados a Gregorio del Olmo Lete con ocasión de su 65 aniversario. Aula Orientalis 17-18. Barcelona 1999-2000, pp. 215-228. [BDTNS link]

  2. M. Molina, “Review of B. Lafont and F. Yildiz, Tablettes Cunéiformes de Tello au Musée d'Istanbul datant de l'époque de la IIIe Dynastie d'Ur. II", Journal of the American Oriental Society 121.1 (2001) 143-144 [BM 27844] . [BDTNS link]

  3. M. Molina and M. Such-Gutiérrez, “Appendix: Messenger texts in the British Museum nos. 292-297”, in F. D’Agostino and F. Pomponio, Umma Messenger Texts in the British Museum, Part One. Nisaba. Studi Assiriologici Messinesi 1. Messina 2002, pp. 244-247. [BDTNS link]

  4. M. Molina and M. Such-Gutiérrez, “On Terms for Cutting Plants and Noses in Ancient Sumer”, Journal of Near Eastern Studies 63 (2004) 1-16 [BM 107955]. [BDTNS link]

  5. M. Molina, “Some Neo-Sumerian Legal Texts in the British Museum”, in H. Waetzoldt (ed.), Von Sumer nach Ebla und zurück. Festschrift für Giovanni Pettinato zum 27. Sept. 1999 gewidmet von Freunden, Kollegen und Schülern. Heidelberger Studien zum Alten Orient 9. Heidelberg 2004, pp. 175-184. [BDTNS link]

  6. M. Molina, “New Ur III Court Records Concerning Slavery”, in P. Michalowski (ed.), On the Third Dynasty of Ur. Studies in Honor of Marcel Sigrist. Journal of Cuneiform Studies. Supplemental Series 1. Boston 2008, pp. 125-143. [BDTNS link]

  7. M. Molina, “Court Records from Umma", in A. Kleinerman and J. M. Sasson (eds.), ‘Why Should Someone Who Knows Something Conceal It?’. Cuneiform Studies in Honor of David I. Owen on His 70th Birthday. Bethesda 2010, pp. 201-217. [BDTNS link]

  8. W. Heimpel, “Twenty-Eight Trees Growing in Sumer”, in D.I. Owen (ed.), Garshana Studies. Cornell University Studies in Assyriology and Sumerology 6. Bethesda 2011, pp. 75-152 [BM 14309 by M. Molina]. [BDTNS link]

  9. M. Molina, “On the Location of Irisagrig”, in S. Garfinkle and M. Molina (eds.), The Present and Future of Neo-Sumerian Studies: From the 21st Century BC to the 21st Century AD. Proceedings of the International Conference on Neo-Sumerian Studies Held in Madrid, July 22-24, 2010. Winona Lake 2013, pp. 59-87 [BM 106562]. [BDTNS link]

  10. M. Molina, "From Court Records to Sammelurkunden: A new tablet from Umma and TCL 5, 6047", N. Koslova - E. Vizirova - G. Zólyomi (eds.), Studies in Sumerian Language and Literature. Festschrift für Joachim Krecher, Babel und Bibel 8, Winona Lake 2014, pp. 399-421 [BM 105339] . [BDTNS link]

  11. M. Molina, "Cases on Malpractice by Provincial Officers at Umma", P. Corò, E. Devecchi, N. De Zorzi and M. Maiocchi (eds.), Libiamo ne' lieti calici: Ancient Near Eastern Studies Presented to Lucio Milano on the occasion of his 65th Birthday by Pupils, Colleagues and Friends, Alter Orient und Altes Testament 346, Münster 2016, pp. 319-335 [BDTNS link]


© 2002 Manuel Molina. Copyright and credits.

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