Cuneiform Number-Syllabaries Author(s): Laurie E. Pearce Source: Iraq, Vol. 45, No.

1, Papers of the 29 Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, London, 5-9 July 1982 (Spring, 1983), pp. 136-137 Published by: British Institute for the Study of Iraq Stable URL: Accessed: 11/08/2010 18:29
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Dr. BM 47732 It duplicates + 48191 is the largest of the BM number-syllabary pieces. some are datable to the Seleucid period by the cursive syllabaries are known or suspected form of the numeral nine. sign.11. however. Sachs identified this fragment as well as MMA 86. numbers as many times as the sign repeats the syllabic signs and their corresponding forms appear in Sa. BM 47732 + 48191 the Metropolitan Unlike the latter. Yale University. All of the numbersigns of Syllabary are in a late hand . Spar will publish this text in the complete publication of texts in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. to according sequentially mathematical principle. Ira Spar of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 4 Professor A. cates part of at least one of the other fragments.11. First.11.11.364 exemplar The pattern of its entries. F. 806. where the dis sign indicates of each entry. simple inspection reflect the ordering of Sa signs. 1982). That is. as they appear in Sa.136 CUNEIFORM NUMBER-SYLLABARIES By LAURIE E. 3 For permission to study this text. as they appear in Sa.364. me from making a categorical Only BM 77233 prevents themselves shows that they in no way of the numerals Second. 806 also duplicates from the same tablet.D. 806 duplicates BM 47732 It cannot be + 48191 as well as MMA 86. BM 77233 preserves the syllabic signs as frequently The following observations may be made about these texts : that there was only one system of pairing numerals and signs. 806 listed signs as frequently on this small fragment occur only once in Sa itself. But E. B. Walker have informed me that the text belongs to a small group of Babylon texts which are numbered in with the Sippar material. I thank the late Dr. numeral?dis?syllabic for syllabaries. MMA 86. any apparent 1 Laurie E. .364 the initial component preserves each Sa sign only once. dupli+48191. Thesis. (Ph. of the corpus and observations about the texts follows.4 BM 47732 The corpus consists of these texts: 86.11. Each of these. I call these texts number-syllabaries.364 and BM 47732 (before the join) as belonging to this category of text.2 MMA Rm.364. as the determined whether Rm. is the largest MMA and most complete of the number86. preliminary written in standard sexagesimal Each of the texts pairs numerals notation with the A (Sa). it is probable statement to that effect. and not the number of times it appears in Sa. These two pieces arc probably Rm. Cuneiform : Cryptography Numerical Substitutions Syllabicand Logographic for Signs. PEARCE A study of the cryptographic cuneiform texts * brought to light a small group of A brief description texts which pair numerals with syllabic signs. and are the only epigraphic texts fragments number-syllabary BM 466o3( +)466og shares one numeral-sign known at the present time. New York. Vaughn Crawford and Dr. BM 466o3( +)466og. is standard the other texts. the numbers paired with the signs do not run Nor are the numbers grouped from lower to higher values. Pearce.3 BM 77233. 2 BM 77233 is a Sippar number. All of the exemplars to have come from Babylon. This pattern clearly differs from the one in lexical texts. Rm. except BM 77233. sequence with BM 47732 +48191. text in two places. Leichty and C. signs preserved BM 46603 and 46609.

but it is unlikely that any truly secret writing was accomplished with their help. application Although their function is not yet understood. and not the values possible for each sign. of pairings (substitutions?) They may be handbooks some sort. signs (such as divine colophon and geographical No attestation of one of these numeral-sign terminology points). has been found in context. given only The number-syllabaries of the sign lists or the may be related to the organization of this basic document to some more abstract level of thinking.CUNEIFORM NUMBER-SYLLABARIES 137 of the Sa signs shows us that the scribes Third. If the latter were the case. . once.11. where each sign form is lists.364. colours. it is safe to assert that they are unlike the numerical substitutions for logographic names. the repetition (or lack of repetition) of the number-syllabaries were concerned only with the sign form. the scribes would multiple have assigned a different numeral to each repetition of the Sa signs and would not have produced abbreviated such as MMA 86.

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