Babylonian cuneiform cylinder to auction with $500,000 estimate

An ancient Babylonian cuneiform cylinder, which describes the rebuilding of the Temple of Shamash by Nebuchadnezzar II, is to auction at Doyle New York.

The lot is valued at $300,000-500,000 and will appear in a sale on April 9.

Dating to circa 604-562 BC, the cylinder is among the largest of its kind ever found, and was discovered in the ruins of Sippar - a city on the banks of the Euphrates river in modern Iraq.

It was sold privately in 1953 for an undisclosed sum.

Nebuchadnezzar cueniform cylinder
The cuneiform cylinder was buried in the foundations of the Temple of Shamash at Sippar

Nebuchadnezzar II (circa 634-562 BC) is perhaps most famous for his construction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, along with the destruction of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem.

The cylinders were designed to ingratiate kings with the gods, and were buried in the foundations of the temples where they acted as enduring expressions of fealty.

The most famous example is the Cyrus Cylinder, which is held in the collection of the British Museum in London.

It was created in 539 BC and extols the lineage of Cyrus the Great, the Achaemenid conqueror of Babylon, portraying him as having been chosen by the gods to lead the Babylonians.

In 2011, the record for a cuneiform cylinder was set at Bonhams, when a terracotta example from Mesopotamia achieved £264,000 ($441,302).

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