About 40 original casts of clay tablets, stamped seals and reliefs are part of the Ancient Oriental Teaching Collection of the Institute for Ancient Studies at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz.
These are testimonies of the early cultures of Mesopotamia (Sumerians, Babylonians, Assyrians) from around 3200 BC. until the turn of the century. All facets of social life are reflected in these: royal building and dedicatory inscriptions, economic documents, scientific texts such as lexical lists and star interpretations, letters and literature, including the world-famous Epic of Gilgamesh and the Cyrus Cylinder.
The most important writing system for the Ancient Orient was used for all these texts: cuneiform. The so-called wedge was created by pressing the stylus head of the writing tool into the moist clay. Some clay tablets have individual seal impressions to ensure the authenticity of the owner.
In addition to clay tablets, the collection also displays inscriptions carved in stone with pictorial representations, which are based on the written appearance of the clay tablets. A few original ceramic artefacts complement the collection.
The collection has existed since 2005 and is primarily used in teaching. Most of the original casts come from the plaster molding workshop of the Berlin State Museums and the British Museum.