Mesopotamian cuneiform writing alphabets

This brought about a transition from pure word writing to a partial phonetic script. In adapting the script to their wholly different language, the Akkadians retained the Sumerian logograms and combinations of logograms for more complex notions but pronounced them as the corresponding Akkadian words.

Among the treasures uncovered by Layard and his successor Hormuzd Rassam were, in andthe remains of two libraries, now mixed up, usually called the Library of Ashurbanipala royal archive containing tens of thousands of baked clay tablets covered with cuneiform inscriptions.

Here are some examples of how glyphs changed over time: The cuneiform script underwent considerable changes over a period of more than two millennia.

Old Persian and Elamite The rediscovery of the materials and the reconquest of the recondite scripts and languages have been the achievements of modern times.

He succeeded in fixing the true values of nearly all the letters in the Persian alphabet, in translating the texts, and in proving that the language of them was not Zendbut stood to both Zend and Sanskrit in the relation of a sister.

Many of the clay tablets found by archaeologists have been preserved by chance, baked when attacking armies burned the buildings in which they were kept.

Also, with some names of the older period, there was often uncertainty whether their bearers were Sumerians or Semites. In the 2nd millennium the Akkadian of Babylonia, frequently in somewhat distorted and barbarous varieties, became a lingua franca of international intercourse in the entire Middle East, and cuneiform writing thus became a universal medium of written communication.

Specifically Old Assyrian cuneiform is attested mostly in the records of Assyrian trading colonists in central Asia Minor c. It formed a semi-alphabetic syllabary, using far fewer wedge strokes than Assyrian used, together with a handful of logograms for frequently occurring words like "god" and "king".

Assyrian cuneiform[ edit ] This "mixed" method of writing continued through the end of the Babylonian and Assyrian empires, although there were periods when "purism" was in fashion and there was a more marked tendency to spell out the words laboriously, in preference to using signs with a phonetic complement.

However, in many cases, there are variant readings, the same name being written phonetically in whole or in part in one instance and logographically in another. The Semitic languages employed equivalents for many signs that were distorted or abbreviated to represent new values because the syllabic nature of the script as refined by the Sumerians was not intuitive to Semitic speakers.

ByHincks and Rawlinson could read Babylonian signs. Mainly by applying the sound values of the Old Persian proper names to appropriate correspondences, a number of signs were gradually determined and some insight gained into the language itself, which is New Elamite ; the study of it has been rather stagnant, and considerable obscurity persists.

Cuneiform script is one of the oldest known writing forms. BABBAR — Sumerian for "silver" — being used with the intended Akkadian reading kaspum, "silver"an Akkadogram, or simply a sign sequence of whose reading the editor is uncertain.

It contained more than different signs and was thus likely to be a syllabary. Yet even in those days, the Babylonian syllabary remained a mixture of logographic and phonemic writing.

Transliteration[ edit ] Extract from the Cyrus Cylinder lines 15—21giving the genealogy of Cyrus the Great and an account of his capture of Babylon in BC Cuneiform has a specific format for transliteration. Since the Sumerian language has only been widely known and studied by scholars for approximately a century, changes in the accepted reading of Sumerian names have occurred from time to time.

When the cuneiform script was adapted to writing Hittite, a layer of Akkadian logographic spellings was added to the script, thus the pronunciations of many Hittite words which were conventionally written by logograms are now unknown.

Hurrian inscriptions in the same script were also found, as were texts in conventional Middle Babylonian cuneiform. Two phonetic complements were used to define the word [u] in front of the symbol and [gu] behind.

The expansion of cuneiform writing outside Mesopotamia began in the 3rd millennium, when the country of Elam in southwestern Iran was in contact with Mesopotamian culture and adopted the system of writing. The tablets offered no serious cryptological problems, being edited in a type of borrowed Akkadian cuneiform.

The earliest known Sumerian king whose name appears on contemporary cuneiform tablets is Enmebaragesi of Kish. They also kept the phonetic values but extended them far beyond the original Sumerian inventory of simple types open or closed syllables like ba or ab.

They also developed a numeral system to represent multiple instances of the same symbol rather than just inscribing them all. The use of a vertical stroke as word-divider facilitated the decipherment, which was based on the correct assumption that an early North Semitic Canaanite dialect was involved.

Akkadian cuneiform[ edit ] The archaic cuneiform script was adopted by the Akkadian Empire from the 23rd century BC short chronologyand by the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age 20th century BCit had evolved into Old Assyrian cuneiform, with many modifications to Sumerian orthography.Ancient Mesopotamia for Kids Cuneiform.

The story was told in pictures, in cuneiform, and in another writing similar to an East Indian language that Henry Rawlinson already could read and write. The same story was told in three different ways so that most probably, in. Over time, the need for writing changed and the signs developed into a script we call cuneiform.


Over thousands of years, Mesopotamian scribes recorded daily events, trade, astronomy, and. The writing system which Cyrus' officials used was the traditional cuneiform script which had been invented in ancient Iraq well before 3, B.C., which is written by pressing a stylus, something a bit like a chopstick, into the surface of the clay which is nearly dry and the signs which convey the sound of the language consist of different.

Cuneiform is a system of writing first developed by the ancient Sumerians of Mesopotamia c. BCE. It is considered the most significant among the many cultural contributions of the Sumerians and the greatest among those of the Sumerian city of Uruk which advanced the writing of cuneiform.

The cuneiform alphabet. Learn about cuneiform writing and what Sumerian cuneiform is. Cuneiform script is one of the oldest known writing forms. Details of the Sumerian cuneiform script, the world's oldest writing system, which was used to write Sumerian, a semitic language spoken in Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq and Syria) until about AD.

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Mesopotamian cuneiform writing alphabets
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