The Oldest Love Poem

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A small tablet in a special display this month in the Istanbul Museum of the Ancient Orient is thought to be the oldest love poem ever found, the words of a lover from more than 4,000 years ago.

The ancient Sumerian tablet was unearthed in the late 1880's in Nippur, a region in what is now Iraq, and had been resting quietly in a modest corner of the museum until it was brought back to the limelight this year by a company that made it part of a Valentine's Day promotion.

The poem sits among Sumerian documents such as a court verdict from 2030 B.C. breaking an engagement, a property sale and documentation of a murder. Despite the tablets' ancient lineage, they had gone relatively unnoticed by most museum visitors until the company provided the money to make it the centerpiece of a special exhibit.

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