The Sumerians used to ensure the durability and identity of their official constructions by burying in the foundations a large nail, sometimes in solidarity with a figurine and intended to symbolically tie up the building, and a written document, intended to preserve the memory of the builder and the destination of his work.
The support for the writing was the clay tablet, flat on one side and domed on the other: green soapstone replicas were made, of which we give an example, transposed into metal.
It is a tablet of foundation of the temple of the goddess Nanshe, built in Girsu (now Tello) by a powerful Sumerian emperor: Shulgi, second king of the 3rd dynasty of Ur, circa 2100 BC. The tablet was originally read from right to left and from top to bottom, but it was found that it was more convenient to turn it a quarter turn; as a result, like ours, the Sumerian script is read from left to right.
The first sign in the first column represents a star and indicates a water divinity: Nanshe, symbolized by a losangic fish, placed inside a building. in the fourth and fifth columns, a single large composite sign represents a man (LU) capped with a crown (Gal) symbol of grandeur: the two signs combined read LUGAL and symbolize the king.
The tablet reads as follows:"the goddess Nanshe... his Lady, Shulgi, the strong male, king of Ur, king of the Sumer and Accada, the temple Sheshsheshegarra, his beloved temple, he built it".
Length: 12.5 cm
Width: 3.5 cm
Weight: 645 grams
Packaging: Red box RMN
Period: 2100 BC.
Museum: Paris - Louvre Museum