The word museum comes from the Greek word, “mouseion,” which translates to “seat of the muses.” In classical Greece and Rome, a museum was not a building, but a meeting place to discuss and share ideas. Contemporary museums are also a place to share ideas, yet by different means. By housing and interpreting material objects, museums preserve cultural heritage.
On this date in 1919, The Devil’s Lake World and Inter-ocean reported that Melvin R. Gilmore, curator for the State Historical Society of North Dakota, had returned to Bismarck with a unique and rare collection of artifacts: seven clay cuneiform tablets from ancient Babylonia. Dating from 2350 to 2100 BC, they are mostly business records from the Ur Dynasty, covering the region of present-day Iraq and Syria. Among the tablets was a tax list from the ancient city of Umma, obtained by the University of Chicago’s archeology department between 1903 and 1906. It was purchased by the State Historical Society for the sum of $4 from Edgar J. Banks.