CUNEIFORM TABLET

FAKE ART HISTORY

The British Museums exhibition ‘I am Ashurbanipal’ exhibits artifacts from the ancient Assyrian palace of emperor Ashurbanipal in Nineveh. The palace was burned down at the end of the seventh century BC yet, ironically, in its destruction, clay tablets from the great library were fired and preserved. To the public, these tablets are indecipherable patterns yet thanks to the work of the British Museum’s resident Assyriologists we have access to their content. 

As the staying saying goes, history is written by the victors, and this has been true of historical accounts of ancient Assyria.  After visiting this exhibition Arthur Bloye reflected on why it is currently the British Museum leading the narrative of Assyrian history. This question inspired him to create this fake cuneiform tablet. 

Bloye mimicked the technique of inscribing cuneiform and fired his own clay tablet. He then carefully cracked the tablet and eroded it with a sandblaster. The result is the tablet depicted, which is presented in the manner of the British Museum's online archives. 

The fake cuneiform tablet is accompanied by a fake account of its translation. The pages were created mimicking the style of academic papers created in the latter part of the twentieth century by British scholars studying ancient Assyria. The 'Introduction' page was written the give a fake history of a post-colonial competition between French and British scholars to become the authority on the study of cuneiform.

Dimensions: 19cm by 24cm

Material: Clay