The Randy Best Collection

The Randy Best Collection

In 2009, the Tandy Archaeological Museum was loaned a substantial body of cuneiform documents belonging to Mr. Randy Best, local collector and patron. A portion of these documents were included for display in the Written Word . During that exhibit, these tablets were rotated out for conservation treatment. As can be seen from these photographs, the condition of many were critical and required both chemical and physical stabilization.

While these tablets likewise require the attention of a specialized epigrapher before any formal conclusions may be drawn pertaining to their date of manufacture, it is worth making a preliminary comment on their most basic features and shared characteristics.

This particular assemblage of tablets is relatively uniform in shape, thickness, dimensional proportion, coloration, textual scale, wedge size as well as line spacing. The spacing of ruled lines in particular is of significance when attempting to assign a temporal category to these documents. Much like the evolution of textual fonts from typewriters to computers, so changes the format of the written word in antiquity.


Line format in cuneiform documents appears to vary significantly throughout the 4rd and into the late 3rd millennium BC. However, from the Ur III period (c. 2100-2000 BC) forward, tight horizontal ruling appears more frequently and in greater concentration. It is possible that these documents may originate from this period. Only further investigation will tell.

The Tandy Archaeological Museum digitally photographed these along with the Carlson Collection. Hopefully, now that they are documented and can be made accessible to a larger body of scholars, we may acquire a stronger notion for the temporal placement and textual content of these documents.

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