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Cuneiform Script and Tablets

Cuneiform script is one of the earliest known forms of written expression. Emerging in Sumer around the 30th century BC, with predecessors reaching into the late 4th millennium (the Uruk IV period), cuneiform writing began as a system of pictographs. In the course of the 3rd millennium BC the pictorial representations became simplified and more abstract. The number of characters in use also grew gradually smaller, from about 1,000 unique characters in the Early Bronze Age to about 400 unique characters in Late Bronze Age Hittite cuneiform. Cuneiform writing was gradually replaced by alphabetic writing in the Iron Age Neo-Assyrian Empire and was practically extinct by the beginning of the Common Era. It was deciphered from scratch in 19th century scholarship. Cuneiform documents were written on clay tablets, by means of a blunt reed for a stylus. The impressions left by the stylus were wedge shaped, thus giving rise to the name cuneiform ("wedge shaped," from the Latin cuneus, meaning "wedge"). The Sumerian script was adapted for the writing of the Akkadian, Eblaite, Elamite, Hittite, Luwian, Hattic, Hurrian, and Urartian languages, and it inspired the Ugaritic and Old Persian national alphabets. In the late fourth and third milleniums B.C. a people called the Sumerians began to develop a writing system called "cuneiform" ("wedge-shaped"), written on wet clay with a sharpened stick, or stylus. At first the Sumerians used a series of pictures ("pictograms") to record information having to do with business and administration, but went on to develop a system of symbols that

stood for ideas and later sounds (usually syllables). In the later stages of Sumerian writing there were about 600 signs that were used on a regular basis. The language that the Sumerians used is not related to any other language we know about, and it gradually ceased to be a spoken language. The writing system, however, was adopted by people speaking a Semitic language called Akkadian, and continued to be used by a number of peoples up until the 1st century B.C.E. Both the Babylonians and Assyrians, who spoke dialects of Akkadian, used the cuneiform signs, writing not only in their own languages, but sometimes in Sumerian as well. Sumerian had become the language of literature and scholarship, somewhat like Latin up until fairly recently. Cuneiform tablets have also been found in Eblaite (a Semitic language from northern Syria), Elamite (from the area of modern Iran), Hittite (an IndoEuropean language spoken in ancient Turkey), and other languages throughout the ancient Near East. The tablet illustrated here is a business document with a seal impression. Seal impressions are somewhat like signatures, in that they identify the person involved in the business transaction recorded on the tablet. While most of the tablets that have been found are such things as contracts, sales receipts, and tax records, a number of very important literary texts have been found as well, such as the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Code of Hammurabi. The earliest attested documents in cuneiform were written in Sumerian, the language of the inhabitants of southern Mesopotamia and Chaldea from the 4th until the 2nd millennium BC. Discovered at the site of the ancient city of Uruk (biblical Erech), they were in a pictographic type of cuneiform in which objects were represented by pictures, numbers were represented by the repetitional use of strokes or circles, and proper names were indicated by combinations of pictures used according to the rebus principle; i.e., the pictures were to be interpreted according to their usual pronunciations rather than according to the objects they depicted. During the 3rd millennium BC the pictures gradually changed to conventionalized linear drawings and, because they were pressed into soft clay tablets with the slanted edge of a stylus, came to have a wedge-shaped appearance.

Earlier cuneiform was written in columns from top to bottom but during the 3rd millennium came to be written from left to right with the cuneiform signs turned on their sides. At about the same time these changes in the cuneiform writing system were occurring, it was adopted by the Akkadians, Semitic invaders of Mesopotamia, for writing their language. The earliest Akkadian cuneiform inscriptions date from the Old Akkadian or Early Akkadian period (c. 2450 to c. 1850 BC), during which the inscriptions of Sargon, the great ruler of Akkad, were written. Cuneiform continued to be used for writing the Assyrian and Babylonian dialects descended from Akkadian. Cuneiform was borrowed by the Elamites, the Kassites, the Persians, the Mitanni, and the Hurrians. The Hurrians passed the cuneiform writing system on to the Hittites, who spoke an Indo-European language; cuneiform was also used for the languages (e.g., Luwian, Hattian) spoken in areas under Hittite control. With the spread of Aramaic as the lingua franca of the Near East in the 7th and 6th centuries BC, the increasing use of the Phoenician script, and the loss of political independence in Mesopotamia with the growth of the Persian Empire, cuneiform came to be used less and less, although it continued to be written by many conservative priests and scholars for several more centuries. The latest known tablet in cuneiform dates from c. AD 75. The Old Persian part of the trilingual royal inscriptions of the Achaemenid kings of Persia were the first cuneiform documents to be deciphered. The inscriptions were also written in Elamite, which still has not been completely deciphered and investigated, and Akkadian, which was deciphered as soon as scholars recognized it to be a Semitic language. Once Akkadian had been deciphered, the complete cuneiform system became intelligible and the other languages written in cuneiform could be read. Sumerian, at first believed to be a special way of writing Akkadian rather than a separate language, was among the last of the languages written in cuneiform to be deciphered. Encyclopedia Britannica

Cuneiform Tablets Google Videos

Fragment of a clay tablet from the library of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh, with an Assyrian account of the Flood. In ancient times writing was done on papyrus, parchment, potsherds, and clay tablets. The latter were made of clean-washed, smooth clay. While still wet, the clay had wedge-shaped letters (now called "cuneiform" from Latin cuneus, "wedge") imprinted on it with a stylus, and then was kiln fired or sun dried. Tablets were made of various shapes - cone-shaped, drum-shaped, and flat. They were often placed in a clay envelop. Vast quantities of these have been excavated in the Near East, of which about a half million are yet to be read. It is estimated that 99 percent of the Babylonian tablets have yet to be dug. The oldest ones go back to 3000 B.C. They are practically imperishable; fire only hardens them more. Personal and business letters, legal documents, books, and communications between rulers are represented. One of the most famous is the Code of Hammurabi, a Babylonian king who lived long before the time of Moses. The tablets reveal intimate details of everyday life in the Near East and shed light on many obscure customs mentioned in Old Testament. Some tell the story of the Creation, the Fall, and the Flood.

A Babylonian tablet from 87 B.C. repots the arrival of the Halley's comet.

An early world map, circa 600 B.C., shows Babylon as a rectangle intersected by two vertical lines representing the Euphrates River. Small circle stand for surrounding kingdoms, and an ocean encircles the world.

Fifth-century BC Ostraka, from Athens Agora

Note: Ostraka were sherds of broken pots re-used as voting 'ballots' cast by the Athenian assembly, who would each choose a politician they wished to have 'ostracized', or exiled for ten years. If any one name received a majority and a total of 6,000 or more votes, that man would have to leave Athens. Above are some excavated ostraka naming prominent politicians still well-known to historians today - at the top, Aristeides, son of Lysimachus on the left, and Themistokles, of the deme Phrearios on the right. At the bottom, Kimon, son of Miltiades on the left, and Perikles, son of Xanthippos on the right.

Movable Type is a weblog publishing system developed by the company Six Apart. It was publicly announced on September 3, 2001; [2] version 1.0 was publicly released on October 8, 2001.[3] On 12 December 2007, Movable Type was relicensed as free software under theGNU General Public License.[4] The current version is 5.12.[5]

Typesetting is the composition of text by means of types.[1] Typesetting requires the prior process of designing a font and storing it in some manner. Typesetting is the retrieval of the stored letters (called sorts in mechanical systems and glyphs in digital systems) and the ordering of them according to a language's orthography for visual display.

Telegraphy (from Greek: tele τηλε "far", and graphein γραφειν "writing") is the long-distance transmission of messages via some signalling technology. Telegraphy requires messages to be converted to a code (sometimes called a 'language') which is known to both sender and receiver. Such codes are designed according to limits of a given signalling medium.

Lithography (from Greek λίθος - lithos, 'stone' + γράφειν -graphein, 'to write') is a method for printing using a stone (lithographic limestone) or a metal plate with a completely smooth surface. Invented in 1796 by Bavarian author Alois Senefelder as a cheap method of publishing theatrical works,[1][2] lithography can be used to print text or artwork onto paper or other suitable material.[3]

A word processor is a computer application used for the production (including composition, editing, formatting, and possibly printing) of any sort of printable material. Word processor may also refer to a type of stand-alone office machine, popular in the 1970s and 1980s, combining the keyboard text-entry and printing functions of an electric typewriterwith a dedicated processor (like a computer processor) for the editing of text. Although features and design varied between manufacturers and models, with new features added as technology advanced, word processors for several years usually featured a monochrome display and the ability to save documents on memory cards or diskettes. Later models introduced innovations such as spellchecking programs, increased formatting options, and dot-matrix printing. As the more versatile combination of a personal computer and separateprinter became commonplace, most business-machine companies stopped manufacturing the word processor as a stand-alone office machine. As of 2009 there were only two U.S. companies, Classic and AlphaSmart, which still made stand-alone word processors.[1]Many older machines, however, remain in use. Since 2009, Sentinel has offered a machine described as a word processor, but in actuality it is more accurately a highly specialised microcomputer, used for accounting and publishing.[2] Word processors are descended from early text formatting tools (sometimes called text justification tools, from their only real

capability). Word processing was one of the earliest applications for the personal computer in office productivity. Although early word processors used tag-based markup for document formatting, most modern word processors take advantage of a graphical user interface providing some form ofwhat-you-see-is-what-you-get editing. Most are powerful systems consisting of one or more programs that can produce any arbitrary combination of images, graphics and text, the latter handled with type-setting capability. Microsoft Word is the most widely used word processing software. Microsoft estimates that over 500,000,000 people use the Microsoft Office suite,[3] which includes Word. Many other word processing applications exist, including WordPerfect (which dominated the market from the mid-1980s to early-1990s on computers running Microsoft's MSDOS operating system) and open source applications Writer, AbiWord, KWord, and LyX. Web-based word processors, such as Office Web Apps or Google Docs, are a relatively new category.

Desktop publishing (also known as DTP) is the creation of documents using page layout software on a personal computer. The term has been used for publishing at all levels, from small-circulation documents such as local newsletters to books, magazines and newspapers. However the term implies a more professional-looking end result, with a more complex layout, thanword processing, and so when introduced in the 1980s was often used in connection with homes and small organisations who could not previously produce publication-quality documents themselves.