Regional Differences in the Chemical Composition of Cuneiform Clay Tablets


To elucidate regional differences in the chemical composition of cuneiform clay tablets originating from Iraq and Turkey, chemical analysis was conducted using portable X-ray fluorescence analyzers. The analysis included clay tablets from the 21 areas of Ur, Larsa, Lagash, Uruk, Umma, Adab, Drehem, Nippur, Kish, Borsippa, Dilbat, Babylon, Sippar, Nusi, Nimrud, Nineveh, Tell Brak, Tell Halaf, Boghazkoy, Kultepe, and Alalakh, currently stored in the Yale Babylonian Collection at Yale University and the British Museum. Multivariate statistics such as principal component analysis, discriminant analysis, and cluster analysis were applied to the chemical analysis results. Based on the chemical compositions for Ca, K, and Fe, the clay tablets were classified into four groups corresponding to the upper stream area of the Tigris and Euphrates River, the lower stream area of the Tigris and Euphrates River, the northern and central areas in Turkey, and the southern area in Turkey. This grouping was determined mainly by a difference in Ca content dictated by the local geology.

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Uchida, E. , Niikuma, D. and Watanabe, R. (2015) Regional Differences in the Chemical Composition of Cuneiform Clay Tablets. Archaeological Discovery, 3, 179-207. doi: 10.4236/ad.2015.34015.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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