Ancient Near Eastern Library Policies

If you thought modern library policies were still archaic, then you should read these:

  • He who fears Anu, Enlil, and Ea will return [this book] to the owner’s house the same day
  • He who fears Anu and Antu will return [this book] to the owner’s house the next day
  • He who fears Marduk and Sarpanitum will not entrust [this book] to [others’] hands
  • He who entrusts [this book] to [others’] hands, may all the gods who are found in Babylon curse him!
  • He who fears Anu and Antu will take care of [this book] and respect it
  • This book by order of Anu and Antu is to remain in good condition
  • In the name of Nabu and Marduk, do not rub out the text!
  • Who rubs out the text, Marduk will look upon him with anger
  • He who fears Anu and Antu will not carry [this book] off by theft
  • He who carries [this book] off, may Shamash carry off his eyes
  • He who carries [this book] off, may Adad and Shala carry him off!
  • He who breaks [this book] or puts it in water or rubs it until you cannot recognize it [and] cannot make it be 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 dog’s mouth.

From Lionel Casson, Libraries in the Ancient World (Yale, 2001), 13-14 (Amazon/Worldcat.org).

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