We are well-aware of the standardized shapes and sizes of different types of cuneiform tablets. Old Babylonian school tablets are classified in five very distinctly shaped types. For most of records of the administrative archives of large official households such as the palace of Ebla and the Ur III state, the range (monthly summary, yearly summary, individual transaction,…) can be determined at a glance. These are just two of numerous examples.
Interestingly, such a standardization can be observed in smaller administrative archives and in private archives as well. Everyone who has been studying a cuneiform archive for a while will succeed in identifying the type of document (loan, purchase, administrative record of barley, or of livestock, etc.) without reading the text. In this contribution, the evidence for Old Babylonian Nippur, consisting of private dossiers as well as temple files, will be mapped first. On this basis, questions concerning the how and why of this phenomenon will be addressed. What does this tell us about the production of tablets and the functioning of an administration?