Cuneiform is an ancient writing system that was initially found in around 3400 BC.

Cuneiform is an ancient writing system that was initially found in around 3400 BC.

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. Here are six facts about the script that originated from ancient Mesopotamia…

Curators of the world’s collection that is largest of cuneiform tablets – housed at 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 information about the history regarding the ancient script…

Cuneiform just isn’t a language

The cuneiform system that is writing also not an alphabet, also it doesn’t have letters. Instead it used between 600 and 1,000 characters to write words (or elements of them) or syllables (or parts of them).

The two 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 put it to use equally well to spell Chinese, Hungarian or English today.

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Cuneiform was initially found in around 3400 BC

The first stage used elementary pictures that have been soon also used to record sounds. Cuneiform probably preceded Egyptian hieroglyphic writing, because we realize of early Mesopotamian experiments and ‘dead-ends’ as the established script developed – including the beginning of signs and numbers – whereas the hieroglyphic system appears to have been born just about perfectly formed and able to go. Almost certainly Egyptian writing evolved from cuneiform – it can’t have been an invention that is on-the-spot.

Amazingly, cuneiform continued to be used before the first century AD, and therefore the exact distance in time that separates us from the latest surviving cuneiform tablet is just just over 50 % of that which separates that tablet from the cuneiform that is first.

All that you necessary to write cuneiform was a reed plus some clay

Both of which were freely for sale in the rivers alongside the Mesopotamian cities where cuneiform was used (now Iraq and eastern Syria). The word cuneiform arises from Latin ‘cuneus’, meaning ‘wedge’, and just means ‘wedge shaped’. It is the shape made each time a scribe pressed his stylus (made from a specially cut reed) in to the clay.

Most tablets would fit comfortably when you look at the palm of a hand – like mobile phones today – and were utilized for only a short time: maybe a few hours or days in school, or a few years for a letter, loan or account. Most of the tablets have survived purely by accident.

Those who read cuneiform for a full time income – and there are many – choose to think of it whilst the world’s most writing that is difficultor perhaps the most inconvenient). However, when you yourself have six years to spare and work twenty-four hours a day (not pausing for meals) it’s a doddle to understand! All you have to do is learn the extinct languages recorded by the tablets, then large number of signs – many of which do have buy essays online more than one meaning or sound.

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Children who visit the British Museum seem to take to cuneiform with a kind of overlooked instinct that is homing in addition they often consider clay homework in spikey wedges a whole lot more exciting than exercises in biro in writing.

In fact, a number of the surviving tablets within the museum collection belonged to schoolchildren, and show the spelling and handwriting exercises until they could move on to difficult literature that they completed: they repeated the same characters, then words, then proverbs, over and over again.

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Cuneiform is really as relevant today as ever

Ancient writings offer proof which our ‘modern’ ideas and problems have now been experienced by human beings for many thousands of years – this might be always an astounding realisation. 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 really is utterly fascinating to read other people’s letters, particularly when they are 4,000 years old and printed in such elegant and script that is delicate.

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