Used by Sumerians and other Mesopotamian cultures beginning in the third millennium BC, clay nails, also referred to as dedication or foundation nails, were inscribed with cuneiform
Cuneiform script )) is one of the earliest known forms of written expression. Emerging in Sumer around the 30th century BC, with predecessors reaching into the late 4th millennium , cuneiform writing began as a system of pictographs...
and embedded into walls to serve as evidence that the temple
A temple is a structure reserved for religious or spiritual activities, such as prayer and sacrifice, or analogous rites. A templum constituted a sacred precinct as defined by a priest, or augur. It has the same root as the word "template," a plan in preparation of the building that was marked out...
or building was the divine property of the god
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....
to whom it was dedicated.
Additionally, uninscribed clay
Clay is a general term including many combinations of one or more clay minerals with traces of metal oxides and organic matter. Geologic clay deposits are mostly composed of phyllosilicate minerals containing variable amounts of water trapped in the mineral structure.- Formation :Clay minerals...
cones painted in different colors were used by Sumerians to create decorative mosaic
Mosaic is the art of creating images with an assemblage of small pieces of colored glass, stone, or other materials. It may be a technique of decorative art, an aspect of interior decoration, or of cultural and spiritual significance as in a cathedral...
patterns on walls and pillars within buildings, as well as to add strength to the structure (see 2nd link below).
The similar funerary cone
Funerary cones are an Ancient Egyptian artifact, almost exclusively in the Theban necropolis, placed over the entrance of the chapel of a tomb. Early examples have been found from the Eleventh Dynasty, but are generally undecorated...
s of ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...
used the cone base as the major writing surface.
Foundation nail examplesAs some of the oldest 'documents' in history, the sponsor, responsible for the construction, or dedication of a work, some of the oldest histories, and/or intrigues are recorded. (Boasting sometimes led to historical inaccuracies, or mistatements of facts.)
King EntemenaKing Entemena
Entemena was a son of En-anna-tum I, and he reestablished Lagash as a power in Sumer. He defeated Illi of Umma, with the aid of Lugal-kinishe-dudu of Uruk, successor to Enshakushanna, who is in the king list.-Artifacts:...
's nail is a prime example of a clay nail in excellent condition, as well as a detailed story. He was king of Lagash
Lagash is located northwest of the junction of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers and east of Uruk, about east of the modern town of Ash Shatrah. Lagash was one of the oldest cities of the Ancient Near East...
towards the late-middle of the 3rd millennium BC
3rd millennium BC
The 3rd millennium BC spans the Early to Middle Bronze Age.It represents a period of time in which imperialism, or the desire to conquer, grew to prominence, in the city states of the Middle East, but also throughout Eurasia, with Indo-European expansion to Anatolia, Europe and Central Asia. The...