The cuneiform collection of the Free Library of Philadelphia (FLP), counting some 2914 individual artifacts, is best known through the efforts of David I. Owen, Marcel Sigrist and Gordon Young, whose publication of two volumes of administrative documents from the Ur III period, ca. 2100-2000 BC, accounted for 1280 of the total holdings; 204 artifacts were entered into the Toronto RIME series, either by the authors or by CDLI staff “after the fact,” following the standards of Dan Foxvog’s Mesopotamian Royal Inscriptions site (four of those entries were to an as yet unfinished RIMB volume), and some few others have been dealt with in diverse media, including an edition of a contract “handbook” by Martha Roth as her Penn Thesis—and her entry into Babylonian legal tradition. The history of CDLI work on the collection stretches back to early 2007, when project director R. K. Englund first contacted Jim DeWalt, Head of the Library’s Social Sciences and History Department, about its eventual digital capture; these queries were picked up again in 2012 by CDLI postdoctoral associate Lance Allred, who was given access to all FLP cataloguing files and artifacts. His, and succeeding imaging work by graduate researcher Michael Heinle, and then postdoctoral associate Stephen Hughey, finally in April 2015 a mop-up session by Klaus Wagensonner, Oxford, were kindly supervised by Janine Pollock, then Department Head of FLP’s Rare Book Department, and most recently by Katharine Chandler, FLP Reference Librarian and Keeper of Manuscripts. Following procedures discussed in their methods pages, CDLI staff have now scanned all available artifacts; raw images were processed to “fatcrosses” and added to the project’s existing web content on the text artifacts, including catalogue data and, in many cases, transliterations. Our current catalogue lists some 1375 pieces as unpublished; we welcome of course information about publications that we have missed, and corrections of any errors. We are grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon foundation for the funding that made this collaboration possible.

Introduction to the collection
FLP homepage


All FLP inscriptions sorted by museum number

All FLP inscriptions sorted by publication

Tablets by period:

   ED IIIb period (ca. 2500-2340 BC)
   Old Akkadian period (ca. 2500-2340 BC)
   Lagash II period (ca. 2200-2100 BC)
   Ur III period (ca. 2100-2000 BC)
   Early Old Babylonian (ca. 2000-1900 BC)
   Old Babylonian (ca. 1900-1600 BC)
   Neo-Babylonian (ca. 626-539 BC)

Tablets by text genre:

   Administrative texts
   Royal/Monumental texts
   Votive texts
   Legal texts
   Mathematical texts

Search all CDLI inscriptions

The image to the right depicts the text FLP 4 (= D. I. Owen, MVN 3, 4), an administrative document from the Early Dynastic IIIb period (ca. 2500-2340 BC) with fodder expenditures for household herds of the goddess Baba, including modest numbers of onagers, sheep and pigs. The swineherd Lugalpa’e recorded here is well known from 120 comparable feed and rations accounts, beginning in the reign of Enentarzi in ca. 2370 BC, through his successor Lugalanda, and down to at least the 12th month of the king Urukagina’s 6th year. This text dates to the early summer of 2345 BC, very shortly before the Lagash dynasty fell to forces from Uruk to the southwest, and Sargon’s Agade to the north. Click on the image to be directed to the text’s corresponding CDLI page with M. Heinle’s full translation.


A cooperative effort of the the Free Library of Philadelphia,
and the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative