About OBMC

The Old Babylonian Model Contracts (OBMC), directed by Gabriella Spada (PI), offers editions and translations of the so-called "model contracts". They were used as aids in the training of scribes in the Old Babylonian schools.

OBMC is created, maintained and presented using the tools and standards developed for the Open Richly Annotated Cuneiform Corpus (ORACC [http://oracc.museum.upenn.edu]) by Steve Tinney.

Project Team

Gabriella Spada (PI)

Niek Veldhuis [http://nes.berkeley.edu/Web_Veldhuis/] (advisor)

The Project

Although model contracts were a common element in scribal schooling, and although they have attracted the attention of some scholars in the past, a comprehensive edition of the corpus was up to now a desideratum. Hitherto, the few published model contracts have been studied and edited as a separate entity, without dealing with them as a peculiar typology, nor producing an in-depth analysis of their role in the scribal curriculum, and their relationship with the other didactic tools (especially with the lexical tradition of the lists taught at school).

In order to understand the cultural and historical role of model contracts in the Old Babylonian edubba, and to offer an analysis of them, it is necessary to start from a strictly scientific edition of a well-defined corpus of texts.

OBMC represents such a complete edition. It offers a catalogue of all the cuneiform texts which can be identified as "model contracts", beginning from the texts already labeled as "models" in the catalogues of the most important cuneiform collections of the world. Other model contracts, still completely unknown, are being added to the corpus (sometimes, in fact, school tablets written by a scribe who had attained a high level of proficiency may be impossible to distinguish from the documents recording actual business transactions, particularly if they are fragmentary).

Starting from this edition of texts, the second part of the project will be aimed at contextualizing model contracts in their cultural and economic environment, in order to understand the cursus through which a scribe became a "bureaucrat", to be placed into the palace or temple administration of the ancient Mesopotamia, or to be used in the private sector.

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© OBMC, Gabriella Spada