The Basalt "Chicago Stone" from the Early Dynastic period, ca 2600 BC, Iraq
Shown with Margie Smigel, Real Estate Broker, Chicago, Ill. 2014 AD
stone dimensions (9 3/4 in x 12 1/2 in X 2 in)
Written in the Sumerian language, this rectangular stone slab is called the "Chicago Stone" because of it's current home. It is of the oldest known display documents relating a real-estate transfer in Mesopotamia. The 9 columns of text written on on 2 sides, record the sale of land to a single buyer, who is unnamed. The purchase was made in silver, oil,wood, bread and sheep fat. The letters are early cuneiform (wedge shaped) with pictographic signs (picture writing). The pictures are organized into boxes depicting names and quanties of items. The text is read vertically, beginning at the leftmost column.
Today everybody gets a survey at closing, so they have a pictorial representation of what they are buying. It all probably comes from this stone. Over the course of history the required documentation for a real estate transaction just keeps growing, but everything is still on paper at closing. I think this stone is much more elegant than all those papers- this is beautiful! A work of art that lasts thousands of years! Wouldn't it be nice if at least your deed was in stone? - to be able to carry home a stone tablet of your deed from the closing?
Not the way of the world anymore, real estate transactions are going more and more paperless.... so this raises a good question, what artifacts will remain of our present-day real estate transactions 1000 years from now?