Decoding Museum Numbers

Most Mesopotamian artifacts are in museums and collections around the world. Cuneiform mathematical tablets are often referred to by their museum catalog numbers, such as YBC 7289. This reference consists of one or more letters or a word, typically referring to the museum or collection in which the tablet is to be found, and the number by which it is catalogued in that collection. For example, the tablet YBC 7289 is in the Yale Babylonian Collection and is object number 7289 in their catalog, while the tablet Plimpton 322 is the object numbered 322 in the catalog of the George A. Plimpton Collection of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University.

Below is a list of the more common museum codes and their explanation.
Museum Code  Collection Name
Asiatic Collection,
The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago 
AO  Antiquités Orientales, Louvre 
BM  British Museum
CBS Catalog of the Babylonian Section,
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
IM Iraq Museum, Baghdad
Ist Archaeological Museum of the Ancient Orient, 
K Kuyunjik Collection, British Museum
M University of Michigan Collection
MLC Morgan Library Collection,
Yale University
MM Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
NBC Nies Babylonian Collection,
Yale University
NCBT Newell Collection of Babylonian Tablets,
Yale University
Plimpton George A. Plimpton Collection,
Columbia University
PTS Princeton Theological Seminary
Strssbg Bibliothèque Nationale et Universitaire de Strasbourg
VAT Vorderasiatische Abteilung, Tontafeln,
Staatliche Museen, Berlin
W Herbert Weld Collection,
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford University
YBC Yale Babylonian Collection

Go to Mesopotamian Mathematics

Last modified: 27 March 2004
Duncan J. Melville

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