Overdue library books in 648BC

Posted by jerry on January 25th, 2004 — Posted in History

Who would have thought eh? As soon as libraries came into being there were problems with people defacing, breaking or stealing library books! Perhaps that’s why the signs against poor library practice under Ashurbanipal in ancient Assyria seem a bit more extreme than a small fine:

“He who breaks this tablet or puts it in water or rubs it until you cannot recgnise it and cannot make it understood, may Ashur, Sin, Shamash, Adad and Ishtar, Bel, Nergal, Ishtar of Nineveh, Ishtar of Arbela, Ishtar of Bit Kidmurri, the gods of heaven and earth and the gods of Assyria, may all these curse him with a curse which cannot be relieved, terrible and merciless, as long as he lives, may they let his name, his seed, be carried off from the land, may they put his flesh in a dogs mouth.”

Of course the books were perhaps a bit fragile, being written on clay tablets in cuneiform script – but then they long outlasted any Egyptian library scrolls as these were written on fragile papyrus paper.

But it’s interesting to see that human nature has always been thus


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