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130 E Swamp Rd
Doylestown, PA 18901

Moravian Pottery & Tile Works

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Babylonian Inscription Paperweight

The University of Pennsylvania sent several ‘Babylonian’ expeditions to the Ottoman Empire in the late 19th century to excavate archaeological artifacts, in what is now modern day Iraq.  From 1894-1897 HC Mercer was the Curator of American & Prehistoric Archaeology for the Museum of Science & Art at the University of Pennsylvania.  The “Babylonian Inscription Paperweight” appears to be an exact copy of a brick stamp brought back as a result of the expedition.  Used to mark bricks made for the construction of temples, brick stamps typically were inscribed with the names of the builder and temple god.  It is likely that   Mercer made an impression of the brick stamp and copied it for his Doylestown archaeological workshop “Indian House”.

Although the Tile Works was established in 1898 the Babylonian Paperweight would not appear as a production item until 1904.  Of twenty-two new additions in the second catalogue, item # 16, “Babylonian Inscription Paperweight”, stands out as unusual.  The cuneiform writing on the tablet is an ancient form that dates from about 2200 BCE.

The so called ‘paperweight’, read from right to left, translates as “Shar-Kali-Sharri, King of Akkade, Builder of the Temple of Enlil”.  Shar-Kali-Sharri was indeed an Akkadian King who ruled from 2217 BCE to 2193 BCE.  Enlil, one of three major gods in the Mesopotamian pantheon was also known as Lord of the Wind.  Sadly, the Temple of Enlil was destroyed by ISIS in 2015.