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Odum houses piece of history

Written by: Abbie Baggerly

VSU’s Odum Library has a rare collection of Babylonian tablets on display for faculty, staff and students. 

The Babylonian tablets, located on the fourth floor of Odum Library in the archives and special collections, were obtained by Dr. Richard Holmes Powell. Powell was the first president of South Georgia State Normal College, which is now VSU. 

The collection is made up of 10 square tablets measuring 1.5 inches in length. The tablets are etched in Cuneiform writing that provides daily records from Mesopotamia. 

Dr. Powell purchased the tablets from Edgar J. Banks for $40. Banks provided the translations and authenticity for the tablets. 

All the tablets are in great shape except for tablets numbered nine and 10, which are very delicate.

While school is in session, classes often come to learn about the tablets.

“A few years ago, we had our tablets translated by Cale Johnson from UC Berkley, and he wrote an article on the translations. These are linked to every tablet,” said Deborah S. Davis, an archivist from VSU Archives and Special Collections.

After these tablets were translated, they were sent to an international database of tablets and translations called the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative.  

“One of the cool things that grew out of that is tablet number three about sheep and goats−the same herd, people and day, shows up in a tablet that the British Museum has. It recreates a complete transaction of taking the herd in and passing on responsibility through the temple hierarchy,” Davis said.

The Babylonian tablets can be viewed during certain library hours.

For more information on the Babylonian tablets visit: http://archives.valdosta.edu/babylon/


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