Brian Madigan LL.B., Broker

RE/MAX West Realty Inc.,
Independently owned and operated

96 Rexdale Blvd. 
Toronto, Ontario 

Phone: 416-745-2300

Cell: 647-404-8150 
Toll Free: 1-888-507-0817

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The Old “BS” in Real Estate

October 14, 2013 - Updated: October 14, 2013




When it comes to real estate, “BS” has a rather traditional meaning. It’s short for “boundary stone”.


It was rather interesting, since you got your survey and deed all in one place.


The boundary stone was set at the corner of a property with an inscription. The stone showed exactly where the property was located. And, the inscription indicated something about the history of the property, who owned it and why they gave it to you or sold it to you.


So, there really wasn’t any need for a registry office. The practice later developed that a stone monument might be placed in the Temple. Then, another copy would be made for the owner, this time in clay to take home.


That was just like the original and duplicate original deeds that were used centuries later.


This practice actually went on for centuries in ancient Mesopotamia. The inscriptions would actually call upon the gods to protect you and your property from anyone who might later challenge your ownership.


Boundary stones were known as “kudurrus”. Have a look at the history of Babylon during the Kassite dynasty 1125 to 1050 BCE. The area today is near Baghdad in Iraq. Boundary stones appear to have been popularly used for perhaps 5 centuries from 16th Century to the 12th Century BCE.


The kudurru was a stone document evidencing land ownership in some cases. Kudurrus themselves were stones that contained pictures and inscriptions to memorialize a matter of some significance, including economic prosperity, success in war or land ownership. Some inscriptions actually say that the title changed hands with the deed inscribed on clay, and the stone kudurru was the memorial of that event.


The writing was completed in cuneiform script, which means wedge-shaped incisions. This was accomplished by using reeds as a stylus and very soft clay. Naturally, it would be much more difficult to chip away or chisel, again using the same wedge-shapes in stone, but, it would be more permanent.


This form of writing was used by scribes, clearly an elite class, who were “literate” in a society which generally could not read or write.


In ancient Mesopotamia scribes were the first agents. They controlled and documented knowledge. They assisted the ruling class. They became administrative clerks in government, doctors, lawyers and educators. They codified laws, religion and politics. They documented economic transactions and wrote history. Truly, they were the literate class in a society which placed a great deal of emphasis on “class”. In fact, the training to become a scribe took place in “Tablet Houses” which were likely the first schools. When a scribe inscripted a clay tablet using cuneiform symbols for mathematics, they actually learned mathematics.


Brian Madigan LL.B., Broker



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Brian Madigan LL.B. Broker

RE/MAX West Realty Inc. Brokerage

Independently owned and operated

96 Rexdale Blvd. , Toronto Ontario,

Phone: 416-745-2300

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