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SOU receives gift of ancient writings

An Ashland resident and former college instructor has bequeathed a collection of ancient writings to Ashland's Southern Oregon University for display in the Hannon Library.

The collection of 17 pieces includes a cuneiform tablet of Sumerian clay dated 2034 B.C. from Babylonia (now southern Iraq) and Egyptian hieroglyphics on granite, circa 1785 to 1660 B.C.

Former college instructor Lily Hearn will hand over the collection to the library on Thursday.

The collection will be exhibited along with a chronology of the history of writing on the library's second floor in a display case on the east side of the building on Siskiyou Boulevard.

"People can just walk into the library and see the history of print in one stop," said Paul Adalian, library dean.

"The university has been trying to give students more of an international perspective. This collection represents things from different cultures and languages all over the world."

The collection's value has not yet been appraised, Adalian said.

"We are thinking it's a significant amount just because of its historic nature," Adalian said.

Lily and Joseph Hearn acquired the collection over several decades during their travels around the world.

The couple taught at San Bernardino Valley College in California, where Lily taught a course on writing, printing and libraries, sometimes bringing the artifacts to class to show her students.

After her husband died and she moved to Ashland to be closer to family, she decided she would like students to be able to enjoy and learn from the examples of early writing, according to an SOU press release.

SOU, renowned for its liberal arts program, serves about 5,500 students.

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or pachen@mailtribune.com.