Made in partnership with Rare Books and Special Collections and the From Stone to Screen project, the cuneiform tablets are among the most ancient objects Digital Initiatives has ever digitized! The tablets are part of Ancient Artefacts collection, which also includes Egyptian papyri.

Receipt by a temple official of “one sheep and one lamb on the thirteenth day of the month” for rent- Can you believe those prices?! Puts Vancouver to shame.

Considered today to be one of the most significant cultural contributions by the Sumerians, cuneiform is one of the earliest known systems of writing. The RBSC tablets were created during the 20th century BCE, between 2029 – 1973 BCE, over 4,000 years ago. Cuneiform translates to “wedge shaped” from the Latin word “cuneus” meaning wedge and refers to the shape of the writing. The marks were often made with a reed. It replaced the pictorial style of writing from the 31st century BCE to about the 1st century CE.

 

Another rental receipt – Rock receipts are starting to seem very handy- what if you get audited 1,000 years from now?

By the 2nd century CE the script had been replaced with Phoenician alphabet, and all knowledge of how to read the script was lost until the 19th century.

Most of the found cuneiform tablets have not been translated, as there are few qualified individuals in the world. Luckily here at UBC, we have qualified individuals willing to translate the ancient script. Today we can say they were written in Sumerian. Where they came from? That’s another story.

Determining the provenance is not easy and is sometimes impossible.

Provenance is a tricky thing especially when the items in question are thousands of years old. It’s made even trickier by people lying in order to give an object a history it doesn’t have, or even those with good intentions but inadequate or misleading information.

Which is exactly what happened with the history of these tablets. Want to know the misinformation, lies, and mysterious history behind these tablets? Stay tuned for Part 2 next week!

 

Maybe you’ve heard the buzz here. Maybe you’ve got a hankering for learning a little more about ancient dinner invitations or old papyri from Egypt- either way you’ve come to the right place! This week’s blog is all about the newly digitized ancient artifacts up on our website right now!

The two ancient papyri pieces, believed to have originated in the second century AD, have been stored at one of our favorite collaborators, Rare Books and Special Collections, since 1932. Historian (and skilled papryrologist!) Arthur Edward Romilly Boak, in conjunction with the University of Michigan where he was a professor, donated the papyri in 1932 to the UBC Library.

The first scrap is an invitation to a Sarapis dinner – a.k.a a dinner honoring the Egyptian God Sarapis who represented both abundance and resurrection.

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Invitation to a dinner honouring a god …Translation: Ancient Egyptians like to party down

The second is a fragment of a letter from an anonymous writer to his/her mother. As with all letters written to mothers, the writer promises come visit soon and in turn asks the mother visit the writer at their home as well.

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Whether it’s AD or BC letters to your mother never change.

These letters remained under wraps until 2014 when Classics PhD student Chelsea Gardner went to RBSC to check out out more about Stone to Screen projects here!

One of the genius (is genius-superhero going too far?) librarians at RBSC told Gardner about the papyri. Gardner alerted Professor Toph Marshall to the papyri, and he has since written a paper on them and submitted it for publication.

These papyri are part of a collection known as Ancient Artifacts. Stay tuned for more information on the cuneiform tablets, mentioned above, coming soon!

We’ve posted about the Uno Langmann BC Historical Photograph Collection before here, here, and here, but now we’ve got even more to talk about!

Like, for example, this newly uploaded photo:

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Of the 4 people in this picture at least 2 are thinking only about that dog.

In case you want a refresher (and to know where this photo originates) – The Uno Langmann BC Historical Photograph Collection, with over 18,000 photographs, was donated by Uno Langmann a local Vancouver art dealer and his wife. It is considered an amazing collection of early photography, and local provincial history. The photos themselves span the ages – from 1850 all the way to the 1970s!

Today we want to announce lots of new albums from this collection have gone live! From only two albums last year at this time we now have more than 55 albums up for exploration- with more to come!

Take a bite out of the Uno Langmann BC Historical Photograph Collection! Click on any of the pictures to be taken to the albums.

Get a look into daily life…

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A photo taken between 1895-1905 –Parenting the old school way…in between reading your books.

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Titled “The Student” –This girl is ready to take on UBC in the fall don’t you think?

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Whose up for watching the band play by the water? Everyone? Okay!

Local history is everywhere in these photos too, from the fire at Pier D in 1911, to the building of the Lions Gate Bridge.

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Lions Gate bridge half built!

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Fire at Pier D in 1911 – One of the largest and most infamous of the Vancouver waterfront fires.

Hope these images we’ve collected wet your appetite for more!

 

We are excited to announce that we will be digitizing issues of PRISM International, Western Canada’s oldest literary magazine out of Vancouver, British Columbia, whose mandate is to publish the best in contemporary writing and translation from Canada and around the world. The digitization project is in partnership with the UBC Creative Writing department and is set to start in May.

Stay tuned for updates!

 

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Volumes to be digitized

 

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