Distinguished by its wedge-shaped marks on clay tablets, cuneiform script is the form that is oldest of writing in the world, first appearing even earlier than Egyptian hieroglyphics. Listed here are six factual statements about the script that originated from ancient Mesopotamia…
Curators regarding the world’s largest collection of cuneiform tablets – housed in the British Museum – revealed in a 2015 book why the writing system can be as relevant today as ever. Here, Irving Finkel and Jonathan Taylor share six lesser-known information about a brief history for the ancient script…
Cuneiform is not a language
The cuneiform writing system is also not an alphabet, plus it does not have letters. Instead it used between 600 and 1,000 characters to publish words (or components of them) or syllables (or elements of them).
The 2 main languages written in Cuneiform are Sumerian and Akkadian (from ancient Iraq), although a lot more than a dozen others are recorded. This implies we could utilize it equally well today to spell Chinese, Hungarian or English.
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Cuneiform was initially found in around 3400 BC
The first stage used elementary pictures that were soon also used to record sounds. Cuneiform probably preceded Egyptian hieroglyphic writing, because we all know of early Mesopotamian experiments and ‘dead-ends’ whilst the established script developed – including the beginning of signs and numbers – whereas the hieroglyphic system appears to have been born more or less perfectly formed and able to go. Almost certainly Egyptian writing evolved from cuneiform – it can’t have been an on-the-spot invention.
Amazingly, cuneiform always been used until the first century AD, and therefore the exact distance in time that separates us from the latest surviving cuneiform tablet is only just over 1 / 2 of that which separates that tablet from the first cuneiform.
Anything you needed seriously to write cuneiform was a reed plus some clay
Both of which were freely obtainable in the rivers alongside the Mesopotamian cities where cuneiform was used (now Iraq and eastern Syria). The term cuneiform originates from Latin ‘cuneus’, meaning ‘wedge’, and simply means ‘wedge shaped’. It refers to the shape made every time a scribe pressed his stylus (made of a specially cut reed) to the clay.
Most tablets would fit comfortably into the palm of a hand – like mobile phones today – and were utilized for only a time that is short maybe several 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 a full time income – and there are many – want to think about it as the world’s most writing that is difficultor even 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 extinct languages recorded because of the tablets, then a large number of signs – some of which have significantly more than one meaning or sound.
Children who visit the British Museum seem to take to cuneiform with a type of overlooked homing instinct, and they often consider clay homework in spikey wedges way more exciting than exercises in biro on paper.
In fact, a number of the surviving tablets in the museum collection belonged to schoolchildren, and show the spelling and handwriting exercises that they completed: they repeated exactly the same characters, then words, then proverbs, again and again until they might move on to difficult literature buy essays online.
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Cuneiform is as relevant today as ever
Ancient writings offer proof which our ‘modern’ ideas and problems have already been experienced by human beings for thousands of years – that is always an realisation that is astounding. Through cuneiform we hear the voices not merely of kings and their scribes, but children, bankers, merchants, priests and healers – women as well as men. It really is utterly fascinating to learn other people’s letters, specially when these are generally 4,000 yrs old and written in such elegant and script that is delicate.