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A slightly larger than usual baked clay cuneiform foundation cone, with 18 lines of cuneiform script made for Ishme-Dagan, the fourth king of the first dynasty of Isin, king over southern Mesopotamia. The foundation cone testifies that under his rule the city walls of Isin were fortified. An accompanying card shows the script for each line and the corresponding translation which is summarized as the following: Sumerian text denoting a royal name: 'Ishme-Dagan, mighty man, King of Isin, king of the four quarters (of the world): when he cancelled the taxes of Nippur, the city beloved of Enlil, and excused its men from military service, he built the city wall of Isin. This wall, 'Ishme-Dagan through Enlil has achieved great power' is its name.


Sumerian: Circa 1954-1935 BC.

Height 15 cms (5.9 ins).


Very Fine condition; surface chip at the top, affecting a few of the signs, otherwise complete and intact with good clear text.


Provenance: Ex London gallery; previously deceased gentleman's estate, inherited by his children and grandchildren in London and Geneva, pre 1988.


For a similar cone of Isme Dagan, see item 238: Timeline auctions March 2024 (sold for £2340).


In an article by Hendrik Hameeuw 'Mesopotamian Clay Cones in the ancient Near East Collections of the Royal Museums of Art and History', Belgium, he writes: With the collapse of the Ur III dynasty, it was the territorial city-state of Isin which emerged as most prominent. Išme-Dagān was the fourth member of the dynasty and controlled most of lower Mesopotamia throughout his reign. The cone deals with the construction of a (temenos) wall of the Gula temple at Isin (modern Ishan al-Bahriyat). Parts of this wall were excavated in the 1970-80's, revealing many nails bearing the same inscription. Lines 5-9 informs on the king's reforms, most probably at the beginning of his reign, in which he grants favours to the city of Nippur, the most important religious centre of Mesopotamia. By cancelling the tribute and corvée duties for the citizens of that prominent city, crucial in regard to the heritage of Sumerian ideology, Išme-Dagān establishes himself as a reasonable, righteous ruler, in control of his empire.

Sumerian foundation cone of Ishme-Dagan King of Isin

SKU: Y065

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