“Istanbul # 2461” was written by the ancient Sumerians and is engraved on a clay tablet.
The author is unknown, but according to the Guinness Book of Records, “it is believed that he was recited by a bride of the Sumerian king Shu-Sin, who ruled between 2037 and 2029 BC.”
At around 4 thousand years old, “Istanbul # 2461” is considered the oldest surviving love poem in the world.
The text is engraved on an ancient clay tablet discovered in the late 19th century by archaeologists in Nippur, southern Iraq. His name is just the reference number assigned to him by the archivists at the Museum of the Ancient Orient in Istanbul (Turkey) where he ended up.
However, its full title is “Love Song for Shu-Sin”, although it took more than seven decades for this to be discovered, as it was untranslated in a museum drawer.
The poem comes from Sumeria, the southern part of ancient Mesopotamia, between the alluvial plains of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, which we now know as Iraq. The ancient Sumerians were the first people to develop a written language that used symbols to represent spoken sounds pressed into wet clay: cuneiform writing.
The author of the poem is unknown, but according to the Guinness Book of Records, “it is believed that it was recited by a bride of the Sumerian king Shu-Sin, who ruled between 2037 and 2029 BC.”
“When found, the cuneiform tablet of” Love Song for Shu-Sin “was taken to the Istanbul Museum in Turkey, where it was kept in a drawer, untranslated and unknown, until 1951, when the famous Sumerologist Samuel Noah Kramer found. translating ancient texts, “reads an article on the Ancient History Encyclopedia website.
“However, the poem was not just a love poem, but a part of the sacred rite that is performed each year, known as the” sacred marriage “in which the king would symbolically marry the goddess Inanna, join with her and it would guarantee fertility and prosperity for the coming year. ”
Here is the eminent Samuel Noah Kramer’s translation of the world’s oldest known love poem, published in his book “The Story Begins in Sumer” (pp 246-247):
“Boyfriend, beloved of my heart,
Great is your beauty, sweet as honey,
Lion, beloved of my heart,
Great is your beauty, sweet as honey.
You have captivated me, let me present myself trembling before you.
Boyfriend, I’d let you take me to the bedroom
You have captivated me, let me present myself trembling before you,
Leon, I would let you take me to the bedroom.
Boyfriend, let me caress you
My delicate caress is softer than honey,
In the bedroom full of honey
Let me enjoy your great beauty,
Leon, let me caress you,
My delicate touch is softer than honey.
Boyfriend, you have taken pleasure from me,
Tell my mother, she will give you delicacies,
And my father will shower you with gifts.
Your spirit, I know how to brighten your spirit,
Boyfriend, sleep in our house until dawn.
Your heart, I know how to make your heart rejoice,
Leon, sleep in our house until dawn.
Because you love me, I beg you to give me your caresses,
My lord god, my lord protector,
My Shu-Sin, who gladdens the heart of Enlil,
I beg you to give me your caresses.
On your site, sweet as honey, I beg you to put your hand,
Put your hand on it like on a gishban garment,
Cover it like a gishban-sikin garment. “