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Unsolved Mysteries of Special Collections

 They’ve come to us across four thousand years of history, from at least three different continents, representing many cultural traditions.  We know just enough about them to tantalize us – and we’d like to know more.  Each week we'll be sharing a new mystery from our collections.  Can you solve the Unsolved Mysteries of Special Collections?



Sorry, not those Unsolved Mysteries.  We’re talking about Special Collections materials we’d like to know more about.

Unsolved Mystery #1: Cuneiform Tablets

Special Collections holds eight cuneiform tablets whose exact provenance is unknown. Seven of the tablets were donated to MU Libraries by the now-defunct Ernest McClary Todd Museum, formerly a part of the School of Journalism. They may have come to the University in the early twentieth century.

Tablet MULC 8 (Z113 .P3 1#1 item 1a) was acquired as part of the Pages from the Past collection, which was a portfolio of leaves and artifacts sold by Foliophiles in the 1960s.

Six of the tablets were recently published by a researcher at the University of Heidelberg. The remaining two tablets are thought to be from the Old Babylonian period (1900-1600 BCE) and are currently unedited.

Where did the tablets come from? What information do the two unpublished tablets contain?  What, if anything, is known about the Ernest McClary Todd Museum?

If you have information about this or any other of our unsolved mysteries, email us at SpecialCollections@missouri.eduStay tuned next week for another Unsolved Mystery from the Special Collections vault.








Kelli Hansen

Kelli Hansen is a librarian in the Special Collections and Rare Books department. She teaches information sessions in Special Collections, does reference work, and maintains the department's digital presences. Contact Kelli