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Ea-Nasir's poor quality copper

Page type: Meme
Era: The pandemic years
First appearance: March 2021
Peak popularity: April 2023

Complaint tablet

The original complaint tablet, in the British Museum.
Back in ancient Ur , 1750 years before our time, a person named Nanni ordered copper ingots from a merchant named Ea-Nasir, and sent a servant to retrieve the metal[1].

Unsatisfied with the quality of the copper delivery, and annoyed that their servant was allegedly treated rudely by the merchant, Nanni etched a complaint on a stone tablet in Akkadian cuneiform script , informing Ea-Nasir that they were rejecting any future deliveries of similar quality from them and expecting to get their money back.

This makes this tablet the oldest recorded customer complaint in documented human history, and forever immortalizes Ea-Nasir as one of the most famous scammers of all time… if Nanni told the truth.

The complaint

Below is a rough translation of the tablet's contents[2]:

Tell Ea-nasir: Nanni sends the following message:

When you came, you said to me as follows : “I will give Gimil-Sin (when he comes) fine quality copper ingots.” You left then but you did not do what you promised me. You put ingots which were not good before my messenger (Sit-Sin) and said: “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 somebody like me with such contempt? I have sent as messengers gentlemen like ourselves to collect the bag with my money (deposited with you) but you have treated me with contempt by sending them back to me empty-handed several times, and that through enemy territory. Is there anyone among the merchants who trade with Telmun who has treated me in this way? You alone treat my messenger with contempt! On account of that one (trifling) mina of silver which I owe(?) you, you feel free to speak in such a way, while I have given to the palace on your behalf 1,080 pounds of copper, and umi-abum has likewise given 1,080 pounds of copper, apart from what we both have had written on a sealed tablet to be kept in the temple of Samas.

How have you treated me for that copper? You have withheld my money bag from me in enemy territory; it is now up to you to restore (my money) to me in full.

Take cognizance that (from now on) I will not accept here any copper from you that is not of fine quality. I shall (from now on) select and take the ingots individually in my own yard, and I shall exercise against you my right of rejection because you have treated me with contempt

The return of Ea-Nasir, as a meme.

The return of Ea-Nasir?

In March of 2021, a commodity trading company ordered 36 million dollars worth of copper ingots from a Turkish supplier.

By the time the cargo arrived in China, it was discovered that the copper had been replaced with rocks painted to look like copper instead[3].

Considering this event to be the modern day return of Ea-Nasir, it brought a lot of attention to the original stone tablet's story, and led to the creation of many memes related to Ea-Nasir.



Sources & Links

[1] Complaint tablet to Ea-nasir on Wikipedia.

[2] “Poor Quality Copper, One Star”: The Earliest Known Customer Complaint in Human History by Prateek Dasgupta on Medium.

[3] Trader Buys $36 Million of Copper and Gets Painted Rocks Instead by Andy Hoffman on Bloomberg.

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