Inscribed Stone Documenting a Gift of Land

Unknown721 BCE - 711 BCE

Pergamonmuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Pergamonmuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
Berlin, Germany

As a rule, Mesopotamian legal documents were clay tablets on which the text was written in cuneiform script. In addition, there were also documents intended for special purposes, as may be deduced from their materials and design. These are of stone, and alongside the inscribed text they generally bear particular symbols, and sometimes even images of persons. Although the tradition of such inscribe stones documenting legal transactions regarding land goes back to the third mil¬lennium BCE, their function has not yet been definitively explained, and the Babylonian term kudurru has no unambiguous translation. The idea that the word may have meant 'boundary stone' can, however be excluded, as such costly works would not have been placed out in the fields. On the other hand, not enough is known about the location of such finds to suggest the specific use to which they were put. For the present, then, it remains likely that the kudurru are ceremonial records that would have had a public function. Placed in prominent and accessible locations, they may have been a way of publishing the legal transactions recorded, generally matters of public interest because, as a rule, the persons involved were high dignitaries of the state. The kudurru of Marduk-apla-iddina II in Berlin is an impressive example of this. This king too, who reigned from 721 to 711 BCE, used crown lands to reward people with gifts and so bind them to him. This document tells of the merit of temple official Bel-ache-eri and of the gift of land made to him. [...] As well as images of the persons involved (the king stands on the left), there are also other symbols attributable to various gods which reinforce and validate the deed of gift.


  • Title: Inscribed Stone Documenting a Gift of Land
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 721 BCE - 711 BCE
  • Location: Babylon, Iraq
  • Physical Dimensions: w33 x h46 x d10.5 cm
  • Type: Stele with relief and Inscription
  • Medium: Marble
  • Inv. no.: VA 2663
  • ISIL no.: DE-MUS-815718
  • External link: Pergamonmuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Copyrights: Photo © bpk - Photo Agency / Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Olaf M. Teßmer || Text © Scala Publishers / Vorderasiatisches Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Joachim Marzahn
  • Collection: Vorderasiatisches Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

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