This Artist Recreates Ancient Cuneiform Tablets

Jeremiah Peterson recreates ancient Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets featuring authentic ancient texts that are modeled on ancient manuscripts using his best approximation of ancient techniques. You can even buy the cuneiform tablets on Etsy for display, each with its own wise proverb or saying from the oldest civilizations known to man.

Jeremiah Peterson Cuneiform 2

A rendition of the so-called “Song of the Lettuce,” an outstanding example of Sumerian
erotic poetry.

Jeremiah Peterson Cuneiform 5

A “half-barrel” inscription with king Hammurabi of Babylon’s building projects at the city of
Sippar in northern Mesopotamia.

Cuneiform writing, which consists of various combinations of wedges formed by incising wet clay with a pointed stylus, was used for around 3,000 years from the end of the fourth millennium BC to the beginning of the common era.

Jeremiah Peterson Cuneiform 7

Rendition of the Sumerian tale “Gilgamesh and Huwawa”: the story of the hero-king Gilgamesh’s journey to the eastern mountains and his defeat of Huwawa, the guardian of the precious aromatic trees that grow there who wields a mesmerizing aura.

Originating in ancient Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), it was also used all across the ancient world, including Iran, Anatolia, and Syria, and was adapted to render more than a dozen ancient languages.

Jeremiah Peterson Cuneiform 1

A rendition of a royal hymn of king Lipit-Ishtar of Isin, known as a champion of justice, which
was also used to train ancient scribes. On the right is an ancient manuscript of the text, now in
the University Museum in Philadelphia, reconstructed from a number of broken fragments.

As a scholar of ancient Mesopotamia with a specific specialty in the Sumerian language occurring in manuscripts from the so-called “Old Babylonian Period” (about 3,900 to 3,600 years ago, the period during which the famous Hammurabi of Babylon reigned), Peterson has always been deeply impressed by the beauty of carefully executed cuneiform writing and the skill that went into constructing cuneiform manuscripts.

Jeremiah Peterson Cuneiform 3

A circular “lentil tablet” with a rendition of a Sumerian proverb about beer: “the one who
drinks beer will also drink water (from thirst)” (pronounced something like “kash nana’e a
banana’e”).

His most ambitious rendition to date is a 190 line modern version of the Sumerian text “Gilgamesh and Huwawa,” which is reflected in the famous Akkadian Gilgamesh Epic, where the hero-king Gilgamesh and his comrade Enkidu journey to the mountains to the east of Mesopotamia and defeat Huwawa, the guardian of the trees that grew there, taking his mesmerizing protective terrors.

Jeremiah Peterson Cuneiform 6

A rendition of a fictitious sale of a house used to train ancient scribes.

“May the goddess Nisaba (the patron deity of cuneiform writing as well as grain) appreciate my work!” says Peterson.

Jeremiah Peterson Cuneiform 6

ProtoEa sign list closeup

Take a look at his Etsy shop, where you can take one of these marvelous recreations home for yourself: https://www.etsy.com/shop/AncientTextModTablet

Jeremiah Peterson Cuneiform 4

A “foundation cone” or “clay nail” with a dedication of the famous ziggurat at the city of Ur
to the moon god Nanna by the ruler Ur-Nammu.

Here’s a video of how he does it:

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