In these pages, the Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) and the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative (CDLI) present a database of more than 2900 inscribed artifacts from the PTS cuneiform collection. This collection was acquired for the most part between 1907 and 1915, with the bulk of it coming in 1915 through the efforts of Professor O.T. Allis, who purchased them from Professor A.T. Clay at Yale University, with the help of individual members of the Seminary’s Board of Trustees and a special appropriation made by the Board. Many of the tablets from the Ur III period come from Drehem, Jokha and Tello, and consist for the most part of records of the 21st century BC Mesopotamian bureaucracy. The Old Babylonian group are mainly administrative documents and the Neo-Babylonian group consists primarily of legal and economic tablets. There are also some letters and a particularly significant lexical tablet in Akkadian and Sumerian.

The cuneiform texts have been partially edited by Marcel Sigrist, Albrecht Goetze, and a few others. Some 1,800 of the Old Babylonian and Neo-Babylonian tablets remain unpublished. The digital capture of the artifacts was done by CDLI staff members Michael Heinle and Jared Wolfe. Generous funding for this project came from the Andrew W. Mellon foundation. Inquiries regarding access to this collection may be addressed to Kenneth Henke, Curator of Special Collections, Princeton Theological Seminary Library.

Introduction to the collection
PTS homepage


All PTS inscriptions sorted by museum number

All PTS inscriptions sorted by publication

Texts by period:

   ED IIIa period (ca. 2500-2340 BC)
   Ur III period (ca. 2100-2000 BC)
   Early Old Babylonian (ca. 2000-1900 BC)
   Old Babylonian (ca. 1900-1600 BC)
   Middle Babylonian (ca. 1400-1100 BC)
   Neo-Assyrian (ca. 911-612 BC)
   Neo-Babylonian (ca. 626-539 BC)
   Achaemenid (547-331 BC)
   Hellenistic (323-63 BC)

Texts by genre:


Search all CDLI inscriptions

The image to the right depicts the text PTS 871, an unassuming account of labor expenditures from the reign of the Ur III king Šu-Suen (ca. 2020 BC; click on image to be directed to its corresponding CDLI page with translation). It is, however, remarkable for the evidence it gives of lower drudges at work in Mesopotamia, and reminds us of the words of Hamlet,

A certain convocation of politic worms are e’en at him. Your worm is your only emperor for diet. We fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves for maggots. Your fat king and your lean beggar is but variable service—two dishes, but to one table.

[this was Shakespeare’s punning reference to the Diet of Worms convened by Charles V in 1521]


A cooperative effort of the the Princeton Theological Seminary,
and the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative