Tablet #36:Obverse (front). The flat side of a tablet is the front. It is read from left to right, and down the "page", like English. Click on any of the images to enlarge them.
Tablet #36. Obverse. Line-drawing by Marcel Sigrist. The translation of this tablet would not have been possible without Mr. Sigrist's line-drawings (I wouldn't have even attempted it). Even the most experienced Sumerologist would have difficulty translating this tablet from a photograph without being able to turn the tablet in the light so that the signs can be seen to best advantage. The crowded lettering, the compressed signs, and the worn and damaged condition of the tablet would make it almost illegible to a modern reader. The line-drawings by Marcel Sigrist (he's done thousands of them) have the beauty of art and the precision of science.
Tablet #36: Reverse (back). The rounded side of a tablet is the back. When the front of a tablet was filled with writing, it was flipped over bottom-to-top (and not right to left, like the page of a book) and the writing was continued down the back. This makes the writing on the back of a tablet "upside down" relative to the writng on the front.
Tablet #36: Reverse. by Marcel Sigrist. Ancient Sumerian looks like a difficult language, and it's ten times more difficult than it looks. Every one of these signs have multiple meanings and many different pronunciations.
Special thanks to the Library of Congress for making this collection available on-line.
To see a high-resolution photograph of the tablet at all angles, see the CDLI (Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative). The CDLI, at UCLA, in association with Oxford University and the Max Plank Institute (Berlin), is the world's central authority for research in the field of cuneiform studies. On the CDLI page for Tablet #36, sumerianshakespeare is listed as the Secondary Publication because Primary Publication is reserved for works originally printed in scholarly journals that are eligible for peer review. It is a rare distinction for the CDLI to credit the work of an amateur Sumerologist. My translation of Tablet #36 has been known to the professional Sumerologists since 2008 and it is absolutely irrefutable.