Amphithéâtre Marguerite de Navarre, Site Marcelin Berthelot
En libre accès, dans la limite des places disponibles


It is well known that, in the Old Babylonian Period, a cuneiform tablet inscribed with a juridical text was often encased in a clay envelope and the tablet’s text was reproduced on the envelope’s surface. This practice was intended to prevent forgery and safeguard the tablet inside. However, despite understanding the general contours of the practice, a number of questions remain. For instance, when and how was the duplicate version of a juridical text reproduced on the envelope? What was the legal status of the envelope relative to its corresponding tablet? In this paper, I focus on the corpus of juridical tablets and envelopes from Old Babylonian Alalah. Specifically, I take two approaches: First, I offer a taxonomy of the textual variants that occur across the duplicate versions of juridical texts found on tablets and their envelopes; and second, I document the spatial relationship between juridical tablets and their envelopes as reconstructed from the archaeological record. My goal is to highlight tendencies in the Alalah material that may prove helpful for researchers working with other Old Babylonian archives.


Jacob Lauinger

The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore