Complaint tablet to Ea-nasir: Explanation, Memes, Meaning, Definition

The complaint tablet to Ea-nasir is the oldest letter of complaint in the world.

In the complaint letter, the customer Nanni complains to the merchant Ea-nasir about the quality of the copper delivered and how his messenger was treated.

In social media, the complaint tablet to Ea-nasir became more popular from the mid-2010s and advanced to become a meme.

Complaint tablet to Ea-nasir: Content, Translation

The „Complaint tablet to Ea-nasir“ was written in cuneiform around 1750 BC.

Context of the „Complaint tablet to Ea-nasir“: Ea-nasir travelled to Telmun (Dilmun, probably near present-day Qatar) to buy copper. He wanted to sell this copper in Mesopotamia (including present-day Iraq).

Ea-nasir had agreed with Nanni that he would sell copper barrels to Nanni. Nanni sent a messenger with money to pay Ea-nasir for the copper. However, Nanni refused the copper bars as they were of inferior quality in his eyes.

In the letter of complaint, Nanni set out the facts of the case. Nanni complained not only about the quality of the copper ingots but also about the way his messenger was treated.

The letter of complaint said:

„Tell Ea-nasir: Nanni sends the following message:

When you came to me, you said to me the following:

„I will give Gimil-Sin (when he comes) copper ingots of good quality.“

You then left, but you did not do what you had promised me. You did not put good ingots before my messenger (Sit-Sin) and say, „If you want to take them, take them; if you do not want to take them, go away!“

What do you take me for, that you treat someone like me with such disregard? I sent as messengers gentlemen like us with money (as a deposit for you) to collect the bag, but you treated me with contempt when you sent them back empty-handed, and that too through enemy territory.

Is there even one merchant trading with Telmun who has treated me as you have? You alone have treated my messenger with contempt.

Because of the one insignificant silver mina I owe you, you think you can speak as you please, while I have given 1,080 pounds of copper to the palace in your name and Umi-Abum has also given 1,080 coppers, regardless of what we both wrote on a sealed tablet kept in the temple of Samas.

How have you treated me for this copper? You have deprived me of a purse in enemy territory; it is now for you to return (my money) to me in full. Take note that from now on, I will not accept copper from you that is not of good quality. I will henceforth select the ingots one by one in my yard and I will exercise my right of refusal because you have treated me with such disrespect.“

Complaint tablet to Ea-nasir as meme

The „Complaint tablet to Ea-nasir“ became more popular on the internet from 2015 and became a meme by 2020 at the latest.

The „Complaint tablet to Ea-nasir“ became a meme because the complaint seems so modern but is thousands of years old. To be more precise, it is over 3,700 years old.

So the „Complaint tablet to Ea-nasir“ is anachronistic and that’s why it seems so funny. It could fit perfectly into the 21st century.

Especially phrases like „What do you take me for, that you treat someone like me with such disrespect?“ can be well imagined from internet commentators and rating writers. (Fictional example: „What does the waiter think he is, treating someone with my experience so badly?“)

Guiness World Records called the complaint tablet the „oldest written customer complaint“.

Origin and location

The „Complaint Tablet to Ea-nasir“ was found between 1922 and 1934 in the city of Ur by British archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley. (Ur is in present-day Iraq, then Mesopotamia, Babylon).

The complaint tablet was probably found in the former residence of Ea-nasir.

The British Museum in London acquired the tablet in 1953.

In addition to the „Complaint Tablet to Ea-nasir“, other tablets were found. They were further complaints from customers.

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