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Ever left an angry customer complaint? This 3750-year-old cuneiform tablet suggests you’re part of a very long tradition.

The clay message was sent from someone called Nanni to an Ea-nasir in ancient Mesopotamia, protesting about the low quality of copper ingots offered during a trade with Nanni’s messenger. Nanni demands that his money be returned post-haste.

“What do you take me for, that you treat somebody like me with such contempt?” writes a suitably enraged Nanni, according to Leo Oppenheim’s translation in Letters from Mesopotamia. The tablet came to the attention of internet forum Reddit at the weekend, when someone described it as an early “customer service complaint email”.

Copper was a commonly traded material in the Persian Gulf during this period, and there was a sizeable copper industry in the ancient civilisation of Dilmun in eastern Arabia. As many large firms today will know, the bigger the business, the harder it can be to keep up with customer expectations.

These kinds of humble clay tablet were among the treasures most mourned after the looting of the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad in 2003. That museum has happily just reopened.

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