Istanbul 2461 – Faith, Turkey - Atlas Obscura

Istanbul 2461

Istanbul Museum of the Ancient Orient
Faith, Turkey

Quite possibly the oldest love poem known to humankind.  

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In the Mesopotamia Hall at the Istanbul Museum of the Ancient Orient, there is an ancient Sumerian cuneiform tablet with an interesting poem engraved. It contains a balbale that is thought to be the oldest love poem ever found, known by the title Bridegroom, Spend the Night in Our House Till Dawn.

Unearthed at the archaeological site of Nippur during the late 1880s, the poem is a monologue directed to Shu-Sin, king of the Neo-Sumerian Empire. It’s told from the perspective of a female speaker, who expresses her intense longing for the king in an erotic manner.

A theory has suggested that the poem may have been sung at the yearly rite of “sacred marriage” or hierogamy. During this event, the king would symbolically marry Inanna, the goddess of fertility, love and war, to ensure the next year’s prosperity.

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