The World’s Oldest Known Love Poem

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

There is a cuneiform tablet numbered 2461 in the Old Oriental Works section of the Istanbul Archaeological Museum. This tablet is the world’s oldest known love poem belonging to the Sumerians.

Some parts of the tablet can be damaged, but thankfully it is mostly well-preserved. After its discovery in the archives of the museum, the tablet was translated by Samuel Noah Kramer.

the world's oldest known love poem
The world’s oldest known love poem

As far as we understand from the translation, the tablet is about a king and his chosen bride. It was written to be chanted during the “holy marriage” ritual which was one of the most sacred of the ancient rituals. According to the Sumerian belief, it was a sacred duty of the ruler to marry one of the priestesses of Inanna who was the goddess of love and fertility, once a year in order to keep the land fertile. This ancient ceremony was held on the first day of the year.

Here is the translation of the world’s oldest known love poem;

Bridegroom, dear to my heart,
Goodly is your beauty, honeysweet,
Lion, dear to my heart,
Goodly is your beauty, honeysweet.

Hasan Gülday

Hasan Gülday. Professional licensed tour guide working in Turkey.

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