Sunday, February 23, 2014

CDLI News: The Israel Museum Cuneiform Corpus

From Laura Peri
The Israel Museum, Jerusalem and the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative are pleased to announce the addition of the digitized IMJ cuneiform corpus to CDLI's website, now viewable at:


The IMJ corpus is the fourth cuneiform collection from Jerusalem now posted to CDLI, following upon a digital capture mission undertaken in May 2012 by Ludék Vacín of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin (MPIWG). It joins the previously posted collections of the Couvent Saint-Etienne, the Couvent Sainte-Anne, and the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJI).

This cuneiform collection consists mainly of bequests and gifts of various donors. It is eclectic, comprising ca. 140 objects of various origins (Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Elam, and Persia), accordingly inscribed in Sumerian, Akkadian, Hittite, Urartian, Elamite, and Old Persian and dating from the mid-3rd to mid-1st millennium BCE.

A single object originating in Ancient Israel--a small fragment of a monumental victory stele belonging to a Neo-Assyrian king (probably Esarhaddon)--is also included in the corpus. Other cuneiform material unearthed in Israel, owned by the Israel Antiquities Authority and currently housed in the IMJ, are not included here due to copyright restrictions.

A few objects on loan to the IMJ from the W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research, Jerusalem (AIAR), St. Andrew's Memorial Church, Church of Scotland, Jerusalem, and Arieh Ben Eli, Haifa, have also been added to the corpus.

The majority of the corpus consists of clay objects (tablets, cones, bricks, etc.). Also included are inscribed artifacts of stone and metal (monumental artifacts, figurines, vessels, weaponry, and cylinder seals). The corpus reflects various genres: royal, administrative, legal, mathematical, scholarly, medical, ritual, and epistolary.

The IMJ cuneiform collection is part of the Western Asiatic Antiquities department--currently under the curatorship of Laura A. Peri--the main curatorial purpose of which is to assemble and exhibit documents and artifacts from the various Ancient Near Eastern civilizations that have had a lasting impact on the ancient cultures of the Land of Israel. Most of the department highlights (over 200 artifacts, inscribed as well as non-inscribed) are now on display in the renewed permanent exhibition (opened 2010), in the area dedicated to the cultures of Ancient Near East. The ANE exhibits, along with antiquities from Egypt, Greece, Italy, and the Islamic Near East, complement the IMJ Archaeology Wing's main display that focuses on antiquities excavated in Israel.

Besides exhibiting the artifacts to the general public, a major aim of the Western Asiatic Antiquities department is to offer Israeli scholars opportunities for research. Thus, many inscribed artifacts have been edited over the years by Israeli Assyriologists affiliated with different local academic institutions. These editions are unfortunately not assembled in one place, but rather dispersed in journals, Festschrifts, text collections, and IMJ publications (for detailed references, see "Introduction to the collection" via the IMJ homepage on the CDLI site).

The cooperation between CDLI and IMJ was assisted by the following individuals: Nathan Wasserman (HUJI); Bertrand Lafont (CNRS-Paris), CDLI's Director of European and Middle Eastern digitization initiatives; Sy Gitin (AIAR), Director; Haim Gitler and Michal Dayagi-Mendels (IMJ), present and former Chief Curators of Archaeology; Amalyah Keshet (IMJ), Head of Image Resources and Copyright Management; Nancy Benovitz and Revital Mazover (IMJ), English and Hebrew Editors, respectively; Alison Ashenberg and Ronit Selig (IMJ), Coordinators for Archaeology; Susan Hazan (IMJ), Head of Internet Office, and Avi Rosenberg (IMJ), Webmaster.

Many thanks are due to Uri Gabbay (HUJI) and to Tallay Ornan (HUJI, and former IMJ Curator of Western Asiatic Antiquities), for their helpful advice and assistance in the preparation of the catalogue data.

The imaging in Jerusalem in May 2012 and post-capture processing at UCLA during Summer 2012 were made possible by funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; they are part of the on-going mission of CDLI to ensure the long-term digital preservation of Mesopotamian cultural heritage associated with writing and administration, and, in furtherance of humanities research, to provide free global access to all available text-artifact data.

Queries concerning the unpublished artifacts or corrections to our catalogue data should be directed to Laura Peri ( at IMJ, or to CDLI (

Laura A. Peri, Rodney E. Soher Curator of Western Asiatic Antiquities, IMJ
Robert K. Englund, Professor of Assyriology, UCLA; Director, CDLI

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