The amazing wedge-shaped writing system

Beer, the plow, legal requirements … everything was invented by the Sumerians. You were really creative. Many say they invented the wheel too. No wonder that the oldest script in the world comes from them. It’s about the amazing wedge-shaped writing system.

The discovery

The German archaeologist Julius Jordan discovered a treasure in 1929. A library of clay tablets. They were inscribed in a script that is much older than any previous example. They called it “cuneiform”. It was abstract and no one could make sense of it.

The Sumerians
The Sumerians’ amazing wedge-shaped writing system paved the way for literature.

The system created by the Sumerians originally had administrative purposes. Shortly afterwards it was used for literature. It also helped lay the groundwork for the mathematical calculations of the following civilizations.

Its use spread throughout the Middle East. It was used to write at least a dozen languages ​​in Mesopotamia, Iran, the Levant, and Anatolia until the tradition died out around the time of Christ. More than half of human history is written in cuneiform.

The cuneiform writing system is also not an alphabet and has no letters. They are between 600 and 1000 characters, nothing more. They were used to write words (or parts of them) or syllables (or parts of them). The two main cuneiform languages ​​are Sumerian and Akkadian (from ancient Iraq). In the first stage, elementary images were used, which were soon also used to record sounds. Cuneiform writing probably preceded the Egyptian hieroglyphic writing.

Seemingly easy

All you need is a stiletto and some clay. The word cuneiform comes from the Latin “wedge”, which means “wedge”. More precisely, it means “wedge-shaped”. It refers to the shape that is made every time a scribe presses their pen into the clay.

Cuneiform writing was later used, for example, to write the epic of Gilgamesh.
Cuneiform writing was later used, for example to write the epic of Gilgamesh.

Those who read cuneiform for a living and there are some who like to think of it as the most difficult (or inconvenient) writing in the world. However, this does not apply to children visiting the British Museum. You seem to be getting used to cuneiform writing as if it were something instinctive. And they often find the sound task with pointed stilettos much more exciting than pen on paper.

Ancient scriptures show that this time was not so different. They prove that our “modern” ideas and problems have been lived by people for thousands of years. Through cuneiform writing, we hear the voices not only of kings and their scribes. We also hear children, bankers, merchants, priests … The amazing cuneiform system enables us to read letters that are 4,000 years old. And it remains an eye-opening and magical experience.

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