Ancient Cuneiform Tablets Are Revealing Secrets Of The Lost City Of Irisagrig In Iraq

After Hobby Lobby was forced to relinquish the 4,000-year-old cuneiform texts describing life in Irisagrig, an archaeologist was able to sift through the tablets to learn more about the ancient city.

Stolen clay cuneiform tablets have revealed what life was like in lost city of Irisagrig in Iraq.
Win McNamee / Getty Images

After Hobby Lobby was forced to relinquish the 4,000-year-old cuneiform texts describing life in Irisagrig, an archaeologist was able to sift through the tablets to learn more about the ancient city.

While Hobby Lobby was recently forced to relinquish the hundreds of ancient clay tablets that had been stolen that had originated in the lost city of Irisagrig 4,000 years ago, cuneiform texts have revealed secrets about the daily lives of individuals who once lived in this great and ancient city in Iraq.

Yale University’s Eckart Frahm has explained that he was fortunate enough to be able to sift through many of the 450 tablets that Hobby Lobby had acquired over the years after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) asked him to go through the cuneiform texts to learn more about their contents, as Live Science report.

“The new texts from Irisagrig cast some fascinating light on what is, indeed, quite literally a ‘lost city.'”

Frahm noted that each of these ancient cuneiform tablets, many of which had been written in Irisagrig, had been individually wrapped, and that it had taken him a fair amount of time to wrap and unwrap each of these.

“I had only about two and a half days to study them in the warehouse where they were temporarily stored, in fairly poor lighting conditions. Each individual tablet was wrapped, and it took a considerable amount of time to unwrap and number them, and then rewrap them again.”

  Win McNamee / Getty Images

Eckart Frahm has also described just how very fragile these tablets were as they had “salt incrustations covering large parts of their surfaces.” Frahm is of the opinion that the cuneiform texts were most likely exposed to water at some point in their lives after assessing their condition.

“It seems likely that these tablets all come from the same archive, which must have fallen prey to destruction at some point in time, with the tablets falling on the ground with one side exposed possibly to water and the other protected.”

Some of the cuneiform texts relating to the lost city of Irisagrig revolved around “record food allocations for royal envoys,” along with missions that had been conducted which include the building of a canal and a royal road. Frahm especially enjoyed perusing tablets that described sustenance plots dedicated to dependents of royalty.

“Among the most exciting tablets from the lot inspected by me is a large document that records allocations of sustenance plots to royal dependents, and another that records food distributed to the ‘dogs of the palace,’ who were apparently well fed.”

  Win McNamee / Getty Images

Manuel Molina, of the Spanish National Research Council, has conducted a large amount of research when it comes to learning just where the lost city of Irisagrig is in Iraq, and believes that as the vast majority of these tablets are certain to have been looted, it stands to reason that these looters are the main individuals who are aware of just where the city actually is.

“In my view, it is certain that all tablets identified by scholars as coming from ancient Irisagrig have been looted. The reason is simply because the only ones who know the location of Irisagrig are the looters of the site, who found it around 2003.”

However, some of the cuneiform texts may provide crucial evidence detailing the location of the lost city, and Molina believes that one very promising location to look for Irisagrig is around the area of Afak, Iraq, an area that satellite images refer to simply as Site 1056.

According to Cornell University’s David Owen, in many ways it is unfortunate that the clay tablets were confiscated before serious studies were conducted on them as they will now reside in the Iraq Museum, with little to no access available to scholars.

“Once they enter the bowels of the Iraq Museum, it is unlikely scholars will ever have access to them, nor are there any Iraqi scholars capable of publishing them given the many thousands of unpublished texts already in storage in the museum for generations and mostly inaccessible to scholars. Who knows what new data the tablets sent to Iraq contain. But we’ll never see this new evidence now thanks to the stupidity of our government.”

Whether the tablets from the lost city of Irisagrig will ever be studied in our lifetime is up for debate, but most archaeologists believe that the one sure way of discovering exactly where this lost city is located in Iraq is down to what was written in cuneiform 4,000 years ago.