The Netherlands Institute for the Near East

Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten  -  Institut néerlandais du Proche-Orient

De Liagre Böhl collection

NINO is the owner of approximately 3,000 cuneiform tablets of Sumerian and Babylonian/Assyrian origin, the largest collection of its kind in the Netherlands. The collection was brought together in the 1920s and 1930s by F.M.Th. de Liagre Böhl, Professor of Assyriology at Leiden University and Co-Director of NINO 1939-1955. Diverse text genres are present in the tablet collection: literary texts, omens, incantations, archival texts etc. In addition to the tablets, the collection includes a smaller number of seals, bullae, terracottas and other objects.

Please note:

All items in the De Liagre Böhl Collection have moved to a new location in 2024. This means that the way to access collection items has changed.

As before, we welcome researchers, colleagues and students who wish to view or study collection items. Our clay tablets and other objects (with and without cuneiform texts) are available, even while we are still working on making more detailed information on each item available through UBL’s online catalogue, CDLI, and the RMO website.

Access to the collection

Physical access: UBL

The cuneiform documents in the Böhl Collection are housed at Leiden University Libraries (UBL) as of February 2024. They are available for consultation at the Special Collections Reading Room.

Tablets can be requested through an “open application”. In the UBL Online Catalogue, under “Special Collections”, click on “request uncatalogued material” to open the Reading Room Request Form. Fill in:

  • Shelfmark: inventory number (LB nr.)
  • Object title: clay tablet
  • Date of visit
  • Additional remarks


NINO and UBL are currently working on connecting the Böhl Collection’s catalogue database to the University Library’s catalogue and find-and-request system. We aim to complete this project before the start of the new academic year (September 2024). When finished, all clay tablets may be found by their inventory number in the UBL Online Catalogue, and directly requested from there. For more information, please contact NINO Director Dr W. Waal.

All cuneiform objects that are not clay tablets or clay bullae are housed at the National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden (RMO) as of May 2024:

In addition, all non-cuneiform objects are housed at RMO: small numbers of Mesopotamian terracottas, Luristan bronzes, Egyptian antiquities and varia. These objects are available for research by request; please contact NINO Director Dr W. Waal.

Digital access: CDLI

The Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative (CDLI) has digitised the Böhl Collection, and the larger part of all images are available. In 2024, all cuneiform texts in the Böhl Collection (including cylinder seals) will be completely included in CDLI. Smaller public collections of cuneiform collections in the Netherlands – notably the National Museum of Antiquities (RMO) – are added to CDLI at the same time.

View all tablets and seals (3,355 items) of the Böhl Collection in CDLI.

Publications and further details

The major tablet groups within the Böhl Collection have been transcribed, translated, and published. The NINO series Tabulae... Liagre Böhl (TLB) and Studia... Liagre Böhl (SLB) are publications and studies of (groups of) tablets in the collection. Smaller groups or individual tablets from the collection have also been published in various scholarly journals and books.

Detailed information on each collection item

In 2018-2019 a catalogue database of all clay tables in the Böhl Collection was created and largely completed by Dr J.C. Fincke. In 2019-2024 the data is being completed, including reports on the restoration of individual objects: between 2017-2024, specialized restorer Carmen Gütschow (Berlin) has treated all tablets in need of stabilisation and restoration. While the Böhl Collection catalogue database is kept by the NINO Research Centre, the data it holds is being shared with our partners: UBL, CDLI, and RMO. Please note that some unpublished information on collection items is kept in the archives held by the NINO Research Centre.

On public display

A number of highlights from the collection are on permanent view in the National Museum of Antiquities (RMO) in Leiden. Objects on loan from NINO can be found in the Collection Viewer on the Museum’s website.

In 2014-2015 our jubilee exhibition “75 jaar NINO” at the Museum featured more highlights from the collection. We made modest contributions to “Nineveh” (2017-2018) and other exhibitions.

Over the years, we have regularly loaned clay tablets and other collection items to temporary exhibitions in the Netherlands, e.g. to the Postmuseum (later: Museum voor Communicatie) in The Hague, the Belasting & Douane Museum in Rotterdam, NEMO Science Museum in Amsterdam, and Museum De Lakenhal in Leiden.


Onderwijs in Leiden

Voor het gebruik van kleitabletten tijdens college kan een aanvraag worden ingediend via de pagina “Onderwijs en Bijzondere Collecties” op de UBL-website: gebruik het aanvraagformulier onder de blauwe knop. Het verdient aanbeveling dit tijdig (uiterlijk twee weken van te voren) te reserveren.

De objecten met afwijkende vorm (tichels, kegels, cilinders) met spijkerinschriften zijn ondergebracht in het RMO. Hetzelfde geldt voor alle niet-spijkerschrift-voorwerpen. Ze zijn op verzoek te bezichtigen; hiervoor graag contact opnemen met NINO-directeur Willemijn Waal.