May 27, 2024 The sun rises from Anatolia

A 4,000-year-old cuneiform clay tablet with the world’s first love poem

The small clay tablet known as ‘Istanbul 2461’ in the Istanbul Archaeological Museums contains the world’s oldest known love poem. Written in the Sumerian language between 2037 and 2029 BC, this poem was engraved in cuneiform on a terracotta tablet and is a treasure of humanity that has survived to the present day.

The tablet was discovered in 1889 during excavations in the ancient Sumerian city of Nippur in southeastern Iraq. Translated into English by the US Sumerologist Samuel Noah Kramer, it was translated into Turkish in the 1960s by Muazzez İlmiye Çığ, Turkey’s first Sumerologist.

4,000-year-old cuneiform tablet engraved with the world's first love poem

Although the exact authorship of the poem is unknown, it is believed to be a love poem written by a nun to King Shu-Sin. In the poem, the nun speaks of the king’s beauty and charm, expressing her love and admiration for him. At the same time, she clearly expresses her longing and desire to be with the king.

Istanbul 2461 is of great importance not only for its historical and literary value, but also for the history of humanity. This tablet shows that love is a universal emotion and was expressed in the same way thousands of years ago. It also provides important information about the Sumerian understanding of literature and art.

Sacred marriage ceremony depicting the love between Inanna and Dumuzi

Istanbul 2461 is on display in the Mesopotamia Hall of the Istanbul Archaeological Museums.

The world’s first love poem tablet from 4,000 years ago contains these loving lines.

The groom, the darling of my heart
Your beauty is great, sweet as honey
Lion, dear to my heart
Your beauty is great, sweet as honey

…………………

Groom, let me caress you
My precious caresses are sweeter than honey
The bedroom is full of honey
Let us delight in your beauty
Lion, let me caress you
My precious caresses are sweeter than honey
Groom, you enjoyed me,
Tell mom, she will give you nice things.
My father will give you presents.

…………………

Because you love me,
Give me your caresses,
My lord my god, my lord my protector,
I am Shushin, who pleases the heart of God ENLIL
Please give me your caresses

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