Distinguished by its wedge-shaped marks on clay tablets, cuneiform script is the oldest form of writing on earth, first appearing even earlier than Egyptian hieroglyphics. Here are six details about the script that started in ancient Mesopotamia…
Curators of the world’s largest collection of cuneiform tablets – housed in the British Museum – revealed in a 2015 book why the writing system is really as relevant today as ever. Here, Irving Finkel and Jonathan Taylor share six lesser-known factual statements about the annals of the ancient script…
Cuneiform just isn’t a language
The cuneiform system that is writing also not an alphabet, and it doesn’t have letters. Instead it used between 600 and 1,000 characters to publish words (or areas of them) or syllables (or parts of them).
The 2 main languages written in Cuneiform are Sumerian and Akkadian (from ancient Iraq), although more than a dozen others are recorded. This means we’re able to make use of it equally well to spell Chinese, Hungarian or English today.
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Cuneiform was first found in around 3400 BC
The first stage used elementary pictures which were soon also used to record sounds. Cuneiform probably preceded Egyptian hieroglyphic writing, because we all know of https://www.eliteessaywriters.com/write-my-paper/ early Mesopotamian experiments and ‘dead-ends’ because the established script developed – like the beginning of signs and numbers – whereas the hieroglyphic system appears to have been born just about perfectly formed and ready to go. Almost certainly Egyptian writing evolved from cuneiform – it can’t have now been an on-the-spot invention.
Amazingly, cuneiform always been used through to the first century AD, meaning that the distance in time that separates us through the latest surviving cuneiform tablet is only just over 50 % of that which separates that tablet through the cuneiform that is first.
All that you needed seriously to write cuneiform was a reed plus some clay
Each of which were freely obtainable in the rivers alongside the Mesopotamian cities where cuneiform was used (now Iraq and eastern Syria). The word cuneiform comes from Latin ‘cuneus’, meaning ‘wedge’, and simply means ‘wedge shaped’. It is the shape made each and every time a scribe pressed his stylus (created from a reed that is specially cut into the clay.
Most tablets would fit comfortably within the palm of a hand – like mobile phones today – and were utilized for only a short time: maybe a couple of hours or days in school, or a couple of years for a letter, loan or account. A number of the tablets have survived purely by accident.
Those who read cuneiform for an income – and there are a few – like to think of it as the world’s most difficult writing (or the most inconvenient). However, it’s a doddle to master if you have six years to spare and work round the clock (not pausing for meals! All you have to do is learn the languages that are extinct because of the tablets, then large number of signs – some of which do have more than one meaning or sound.
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Children who go to the British Museum appear to take to cuneiform with a type of overlooked homing instinct, and so they often consider clay homework in spikey wedges a whole lot more exciting than exercises in biro on paper.
In fact, many of the surviving tablets into the museum collection belonged to schoolchildren, and show the spelling and handwriting exercises that they completed: they repeated the exact same characters, then words, then proverbs, again and again until they are able to move on to difficult literature.
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Cuneiform is really as relevant as ever today
Ancient writings offer proof which our ‘modern’ ideas and problems have already been experienced by human beings for many thousands of years – that is always an realisation that is astounding. Through cuneiform the voices are heard by us not just of kings and their scribes, but children, bankers, merchants, priests and healers – women along with men. It is utterly fascinating to see other people’s letters, particularly when they have been 4,000 yrs . old and printed in such elegant and delicate script.