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This 1750 BC Babylonian Tablet Is An Ancient Customer Service Complaint

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The ancient Babylonians may not have had Yelp or customer service call centers, but they still recorded their complaints. They just had to do it on clay tablets, like this one, in which a buyer complains about receiving the wrong grade of copper ore.

Top image from the British Museum.

After reddit user tbc34 shared a photo of the tablet, dated circa 1750 BC and written by one Nanni to Ea-nasir, as it sits now in the British Museum, another redditor, labarna, provided this translation, which they say is from Leo Oppenheim's book Letters from Mesopotamia:

Tell Ea-nasir: Nanni sends the following message:

When you came, you said to me as follows : "I will give Gimil-Sin (when he comes) fine quality copper ingots." You left then but you did not do what you promised me. You put ingots which were not good before my messenger (Sit-Sin) and said: "If you want to take them, take them; if you do not want to take them, go away!"

What do you take me for, that you treat somebody like me with such contempt? I have sent as messengers gentlemen like ourselves to collect the bag with my money (deposited with you) but you have treated me with contempt by sending them back to me empty-handed several times, and that through enemy territory. Is there anyone among the merchants who trade with Telmun who has treated me in this way? You alone treat my messenger with contempt! On account of that one (trifling) mina of silver which I owe(?) you, you feel free to speak in such a way, while I have given to the palace on your behalf 1,080 pounds of copper, and umi-abum has likewise given 1,080 pounds of copper, apart from what we both have had written on a sealed tablet to be kept in the temple of Samas.

How have you treated me for that copper? You have withheld my money bag from me in enemy territory; it is now up to you to restore (my money) to me in full.

Take cognizance that (from now on) I will not accept here any copper from you that is not of fine quality. I shall (from now on) select and take the ingots individually in my own yard, and I shall exercise against you my right of rejection because you have treated me with contempt.


1750 BC problems. [r/pics via Laughing Squid]