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Ancient wedgies: cuneiform and the origins of writing


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Ancient wedgies: cuneiform and the origins of writing. The Origin of Cuneiform Signs. Tokens: The First Book Keeping System A. What are Tokens B. How They Were Used. The Origin of Cuneiform Signs. The Development of Writing A. Denise Schmandt-Besserat

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Ancient wedgies: cuneiform and the origins of writing

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Ancient wedgies:cuneiform and the origins of writing


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The Origin of Cuneiform Signs

  • Tokens: The First Book Keeping System

    A. What are Tokens

    B. How They Were Used


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The Origin of Cuneiform Signs

  • The Development of Writing

    A. Denise Schmandt-Besserat

  • Before Writing: Vol. 1: From Counting to Cuneiform. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992.

  • How Writing Came About. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996.


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The Origin of Cuneiform Signs

  • The Development of Writing

    B. From Ball to Tablet


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The Origin of Cuneiform Signs

II. The Development of Writing

C. Signs that Originated as Tokens


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The Origin of Cuneiform Signs

  • The Development of Writing

    D. Signs that Originated as Pictures


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The Origin of Cuneiform Signs

  • The Development of Writing

    E. Pictures to Tokens to Signs?


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The Origin of Cuneiform Signs

  • The Development of Writing

    F. When it Becomes Cuneiform

  • At first, the images were drawn with the pointed end of the stylus

  • Cuneiform: the images are created when the edge of the stylus is impressed in the clay


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Evolution of Cuneiform Signs

Uruk IV

c. 3200

Jemdet Nasr

c. 3100-2900

Ur III

2112-2004

Neo-Assyrian

1st millennium

god

place

person

woman

foreign

female slave

head

mouth

food


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How Cuneiform Signs Were Used

I. Logograms: Word Signs

ig = “door”

lu = “person, human”

šu = “hand”

dingir = “god”

gish = “wood, tree”

du = “to go”


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How Cuneiform Signs Were Used

II. The Movement to Syllabograms: Sound Signs

Sumerian

ig

šu

du

Akkadian

daltu

qatu

alaku

= “door”

ik - šu - du

ikšudu = “they conquered”

= “hand”

= “to go”


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How Cuneiform Signs Were Used

III Determinatives

A. Definition

  • Signs that do NOT represent a spoken word or sound, but indicate the class of object to which the word belongs


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How Cuneiform Signs Were Used

III Determinatives

B. Determinatives that Precede their Word

Before names of cities

Before names of men

Before professions

Before names of gods

Before names of countries

Before objects made of wood


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How Cuneiform Signs Were Used

  • Determinatives

    C. Determinatives that Follow their Word

After names of regions & countries

After names of types of birds

After names of types of fish


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How Cuneiform Signs Were Used

  • Homophony & Polyphony

    A. Homophony

    • When several signs have the same sound

      • To distinguish signs, subscripted numbers are used to indicate which sign is representing that sound

= gu

= gu3

= gu4

= gu2


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How Cuneiform Signs Were Used

  • Homophony & Polyphony

    B. Polyphony

    • When one sign has many values

= ka, zu2, gu3, dug4, du11, inim, kiri3…….

= ud, tam, u4, utu, babbar, zalag, lih, lah, hiš……..


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The Media of Cuneiform

I. Tablets


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The Media of Cuneiform

II. Inscriptions


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The Media of Cuneiform

III. Writing Boards (le’u)


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The Media of Cuneiform

  • Writing Boards (le’u)


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Ashur-nasir-pal Inscription

Ashur-nasir-pal II (883-859 B.C.)

Palace of Kalhu


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Ashur-nasir-pal Inscription

Ashur-nasir-pal II (883-859 B.C.)

Palace of Kalhu


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Ashur-nasir-pal Inscription

Ashur-nasir-pal II (883-859 B.C.)

Palace of Kalhu


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Ashur-nasir-pal Inscription

Ashur-nasir-pal II (883-859 B.C.)

Palace of Kalhu: Room S


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Ashur-nasir-pal Inscription

Ashur-nasir-pal II (883-859 B.C.)

The Standard Inscription


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Ashur-naşir-pal Inscription

Ashur-nasir-pal II (883-859 B.C.)

The Standard Inscription


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Ashur-naşir-pal Inscription


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Ashur-naşir-pal Inscription:Line 1

E GAL aš-šur – PAP - A SANGA aš-šur ni - šit DINGIR BE u DINGER MAŠ na - ra - am

Ekkal aššur - nașir - apli šang aššur nišit Enlil u Ninurta naram

Palace of Ashurbanipal high-priest of Ashur chosen of Enlil and Ninurta beloved of …….

= logograms (word-signs)

= determinatives

= syllabograms (sound-signs)


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Ashur-naşir-pal Inscription:Line 2

eț - lu qar - du ša ina GIŠ.TUKUL- ti aš-šur EN – šu DU - DU - ku

ețlu qardu ša ina tukulti aššur belišu illaku

youngman heroic who in the confidence of Ashur his lord goes forth

= logograms (word-signs)

= determinatives

= syllabograms (sound-signs)


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Ashur-naşir-pal Inscription:Line 3

gap - šu ša ma - hi - ra la - a TUK - u2 MAN mu - šak - niš

gapšu ša mahira la išu šarru mušakniš

Swelling who an opponent does not have, the king making submit

= logograms (word-signs)

= determinatives

= syllabograms (sound-signs)


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Ugaritic: An Alphabetic Cuneiform Script

I. The City of Ugarit, 1600-1200 B.C.


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Ugaritic: An Alphabetic Cuneiform Script

II. The Script

= A

= D

= Y

= N

= Q

= I

= H

= K

= Ż

= R

= U

= W

= Š

= S

= TH

= B

= Z

= L

= ´

= Ġ

Word

divider

= G

= ̦H

= M

= P

= T

= Ś

= KH

= DH

= Ş

= Ţ


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Ugaritic: An Alphabetic Cuneiform Script