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A: Al-Qādisiyyah Governorate, Iraq

The Earliest Surviving Literary or Library Catalogues Are on Clay Tablets

Circa 2000 BCE
<p>A literary catalogue compiled in approximately 2000 BCE (clay tablet 29.15.155 in the Nippur collection of the University of Pennyslvania Museum). The upper part represents the tablet itself; the lower part a copy or transcription of the catalogue for legibility.</p>

A literary catalogue compiled in approximately 2000 BCE (clay tablet 29.15.155 in the Nippur collection of the University of Pennyslvania Museum). The upper part represents the tablet itself; the lower part a copy or transcription of the catalogue for legibility.

Two cuneiform tablets found at Nippur, (Mesopotamia; now Iraq) are inscribed with a list of Sumerian works of literature in no apparent order.  One has 68 titles, the other 48 works.  These represent the earliest surviving literary or library catalogues. 

Contents of clay tablet 29.15.155 in the Nippur Collection of the University of Pennsylvania Museum:

1. Hymn of King Shulgi (approximately 2100 B. C.).
2. Hymn of King Lipit-Ishtar (approximately 1950 B. C.).
3. Myth, "The Creation of the Pickax" (see p. 51).
4. Hymn to Inanna, queen of heaven.
5. Hymn to Enlil, the air-god.
6. Hymn to the temple of the mother-goddess Ninhursag in the city of Kesh.
7. Epic tale, "Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Nether World" (see p. 30).
8. Epic tale, "Inanna and Ebih" (see p. 82).
9. Epic tale, "Gilgamesh and Huwawa."
10. Epic tale, "Gilgamesh and Agga."
11. Myth, "Cattle and Grain" (see p. 53).
12. Lamentation over the fall of Agade in the time of Naram-Sin (approximately 2400 B. C.).
13. Lamentation over the destruction of Ur. This composition, consisting of 436 lines, has been almost completely reconstructed and published by the author as Assyriological Study No. 12 of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.
14. Lamentation over the destruction of Nippur.
15. Lamentation over the destruction of Sumer.
16. Epic tale, "Lugalbanda and Enmerkar."
17. Myth, "Inanna's Descent to the Nether World" (see p. 83).
18. Perhaps a hymn to Inanna.
19. Collection of short hymns to all the important temples of Sumer.
20. Wisdom compositions describing the activities of a boy training to be a scribe.
21. Wisdom composition, "Instructions of a Peasant to His Son." 16

Casson, Libraries in the Ancient World (2001) 4. 

Timeline Themes