The 'House of the Tablets' and the teaching at Mari during the Old Babylonian Period (ca 1800 BC)

Located on a natural terrace on the western bank of the Euphrates, Mari (Tell Hariri, Syria) is a new city established in the Syro-Mesopotamian region around 2900 BC. Its privileged location makes it one of the most important Near Eastern cities of the 3rd and 2nd millennia. Among the great discoveries from this site, we can mention the exceptionally well-preserved architecture of the Grand Palais Royal (GPR) and the epigraphic documentation found in this palace (15,000 cuneiform tablets). Yet only a few texts depicted the intellectual life at Mari until the discovery in September 1998 of the school tablets of ‘Chantier K’. Indeed, J.-C. Margueron, director of excavations at Mari, found, ‘outside’ the GPR, a small isolated building, badly preserved, which was named the ‘House of the tablets’, due to the 2000 tablets and fragments that were collected during three campaigns. In accordance with the system for naming archeological units at Mari, the one opened for the ‘House of the Tablets’ was labeled ‘Chantier K’. This set of texts includes a large proportion of school tablets: lexical lists, mathematical texts, proverbs and even literary texts. Several lists of Semitic personal names as well as some letters and contracts complete the discovery. The careful recording of their archeological context has allowed to combine archeological and epigraphic data in order to reconstruct the teaching of Sumerian at Mari. This project aims to support the final publication of the excavations of ‘Chantier K’ by the applicant. The publication will consist of an edited volume, while plans, photographs of the excavations, photographs of the tablets together with their transliterations will be released on different online databases. In the context of the Syrian conflict, the publication of ancient excavations from Mari together with the exploitation of the archives of the Mission archéologique de Mari has become a major issue.

The publication project is directed by Dr. Grégoire Nicolet.