Thursday, March 23, 2023
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Clay Tablets in Cuneiforn language

The term "cuneiform" is very deceptive, in that it tricks people into thinking that it's some type of writing system.

The truth is that cuneiform denotes not one but several kinds of writing systems, including logosyllabic, syllabic, and alphabetic scripts.

Many languages, including Semitic, Indo-European, and isolates, are written in cuneiform, as the following list shows:


Eastern Semitic, including Akkadian, Assyrian, and Babylonian

Elamite Eblaite Hittite Hurrian Utartian Ugaritic, in fact an alphabetic system unrelated to other cuneiform scripts except in outward appearance.

Old Persian, a mostly syllabic system with a few logograms.

Clay Tokens:

The Precursors of Cuneiform The earliest examples of Mesopotamian script date from approximately the end of the 4th millenium BCE, coinciding in time and in geography with the rise of urban centers such as Uruk, Nippur, Susa, and Ur.

These early records are used almost exclusively for accounting and record keeping. However, these cuneiform records are really descendents of another counting system that had been used for five thousand years before. Clay tokens have been used since as early as 8000 BCE in Mesopotamia for some form of record-keeping.

Clay tokens are basically three dimension geometric shapes. There are two types of clay tokens, plain and complex. The plain tokens are the oldest ones, found as far back as 8000 BCE, in a very wide area, including modern places like Turkey, Syria, Israel, Jordan, Iraq, and Iran, at settlements of all sizes. They are plain, unadorned geometric shapes like spheres, disks, cones, tetrahedrons, and cylinders. In contrast, complex tokens are decorated with markings, and appeared only during the 4th millenium BCE in large settlements in southern Mesopotamia.


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