humansHumanshumansancient ancestors

Ancient Babylonian Letter From Student To His Mom Is The Best Thing You'll Read Today

Careful what you write down, you never know who'll read it thousands of years later.

James Felton

James Felton

James Felton

James Felton

Senior Staff Writer

James is a published author with four pop-history and science books to his name. He specializes in history, strange science, and anything out of the ordinary.

Senior Staff Writer

A letter from king Hammurabi of Babylon.

A letter from King Hammurabi of Babylon to an official.

Image credit: Zunkir via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

An ancient Babylonian letter from a student to his mother is being shared around TikTok at the moment, largely due to how funny it is.

The letter, written by student Iddin-Sin to his mother Zinû, gives a snippet of life in 18th century BCE Mesopotamia. Iddin-Sin was away from his mother at the time of writing the letter. Rather than a letter telling her how it was going, or perhaps even saying she was missed, Iddin-Sin berated his mother for the state of his clothing.


"Tell the lady Zinû: Iddin-Sin sends the following message," the letter read, according to translations. "May the gods Šamaš, Marduk, and Ilabrat keep you forever in good health for my sake."

Pleasantries out of the way, he got down to business.

"From year to year, the clothes of the young gentlemen here become better, but you let my clothes get worse from year to year. Indeed, you persisted in making my clothes poorer and more scanty. At a time when in our house wool is used up like bread, you have made me poor clothes." 

"The son of Adad-iddinam, whose father is only an assistant of my father, has two new sets of clothes, while you fuss even about a single set of clothes for me."


Iddin-Sin, having made his point, then went for one last big emotional gut punch.

"In spite of the fact that you bore me and his mother only adopted him, his mother loves him, while you, you do not love me!"

Assuming the feud over clothes was settled, it's a lesson in being careful what you smash into clay; you never know who will read it thousands of years in the future. In another excellent letter – an ancient customer complaint – a man named Nanni berated a copper supplier called Ea-nasir, telling him three times in a short letter "you have treated me with contempt" and threatening to withhold payment in future.


humansHumanshumansancient ancestors
  • tag
  • students,

  • parents,

  • Babylonians,

  • Parent-child relationship,

  • letters,

  • ancient ancestors