Thursday, May 01, 2008

Valuing Art

I'm afraid I just don't get why a 4000 year old clay tablet from the fabled Sumarian city of Ur is expected to sell for just £30,000-40,000 at auction, while Jeff Koons’ and Damien Hirst’s work sells for multi-millions of dollars. I'd never make it in the art valuation business!

The clay tablet, dated to 2046-2038 B.C., is listed at Bonhams as Lot 145. The columns of cuneiform text record the administration of domestic animals, and lists the manner in which the flocks were divided during the course of one year. Some were marked as being for government supplies, while others were destined to be supplies for the officially supported religious cults.

The tablet provides a remarkable insight into the daily life of this ancient civilisation and details the particular manner in which animals of one type are distinguished from others within their group. Sheep, for instance, are described as grass-fed or grain-fed, unplucked or plucked, which shows the importance placed upon specific features of the livestock.

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