What is it?

What is this object?

Thank you all for participating in this weekend’s What is it? discussion. We’ve updated the page with the answer and details on the artifact below.

What is it?

A. Sumerian bread stamp
B. Assyrian cutting board
C. Persian maze game
D. Babylonian priestly record
E. Map to the temple of Baal at Ugarit

This small, 6-inch-tall clay tablet from Iraq depicts the twisted, sinuous path of the coiled entrails of a sacrificial sheep slaughtered by Babylonian priests sometime during the second millennium B.C.E. In ancient Mesopotamia, priests sought to divine future events by examining the intestines and innards of slaughtered animals. If when “reading” the entrails (a practice known as extispicy) the priests observed something unexpected or unusual, they noted the anomaly and its meaning with simple clay models that would allow future priests to understand and interpret the omen. In this model, the priest has drawn the curved path of the sheep’s entrails and, in cuneiform, made a brief note along the tablet’s bottom margin about whatever oddity he observed: “Left and right meet on the right, where they break off.” While it is difficult for us to know what strange phenomenon is being described, a Babylonian priest studying this tablet no doubt found the information useful in making sense of some puzzling arrangement of sheep’s innards.

Posted in Artifacts and the Bible.

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12 Responses

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  1. Allan says


  2. BHD says

    Agreed. Too big for a bread stamp, not practical for a cutting board, can’t imagine how this could be a maze game as it’s narrow and somewhat simplistic, and don’t see how it could be a priestly record of anything but perhaps a map…hence E.

  3. Dr. Keith says

    E would seem likely; BHD states his case well.

  4. David says

    I say C. A maze game.

  5. guy says

    the tamples in Ugarit were built in straight lines, this is not a maze, don’t see why the line if it is a priestly record or a cutting board.
    So, it must be a Sumerian bread stamp

  6. Judith says

    I’m thinking E. Doesn’t look like much of a maze and I agree, too big for a bread stamp. Hope we find out.

  7. cameron says

    I doesnt look like a map to me. I go with game.

  8. Jax says

    I say A. There’s no scale, so size is not an issue, and there’s writing in cuneiform at the bottom.

  9. Sharron says

    It looks like a model of a cross -sectioned brain. Could a physician have done this to help his students learn?

  10. Switz says

    symbol of babe in womb

  11. Renate says

    it s a labyrith,a Trojaburg.i have abook with many similar paintings,in England,Gotland,Sweden, Eastgermany,etc.

    it s an old sunsymbol

Continuing the Discussion

  1. Was ist das? | Der Almane vom Stamm der Sachsen linked to this post on March 9, 2013

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