Cuneiform Writing Process

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18 Questions

What was the first known language of Mesopotamia?

Sumerian

Which language became widely spoken in parts of Iraq after 1000 BCE?

Aramaic

When did the Assyrians establish their kingdom in Mesopotamia?

1100 BCE

Which city became important after 2000 BCE and led to the region being called Babylonia?

Babylon

What script and language spread to the eastern Mediterranean after 2000 BCE?

Cuneiform script and Sumerian language

When did Akkadian speakers arrive in Mesopotamia, gradually replacing the Sumerian language?

2400 BCE

What was the role of Assurbanipal in the preservation of ancient texts?

He collected a library of tablets at Nineveh in his effort to preserve ancient texts.

What was the significance of Babylonia in the context of literacy and culture during Assurbanipal's reign?

It was considered the center of high culture, holding a vast collection of tablets.

How did scribes in Babylonia acquire the skill of reading and writing?

Through hands-on copying of tablets in schools.

What contributed to the intelligibility of cuneiform tablets as far back as 2000 BCE in 650 BCE?

Sumerian language was still spoken and taught alongside Akkadian.

How did copyists show respect for important texts like the Epic of Gilgamesh?

They wrote their name and the date when making copies of the text.

Why was Assurbanipal often referenced at the end of some tablets?

To credit him for collecting and preserving ancient wisdom on tablets.

What is the literal meaning of the word 'cuneiform'?

Wedge shape

Why did each transaction in Mesopotamia require a separate written tablet?

Because signs could not be pressed onto a tablet once it dried

What language replaced Sumerian after 2400 BCE in Mesopotamia?

Akkadian

Which of the following was NOT a use of writing in Mesopotamia?

Sending messages through couriers

For how long was cuneiform writing in the Akkadian language used in Mesopotamia?

2000 years

What made tablets almost as indestructible as pottery?

The drying process under the sun

Study Notes

Mesopotamian Language and Writing

  • The first known language of Mesopotamia was Sumerian.
  • After 1000 BCE, the Aramaic language became widely spoken in parts of Iraq.
  • The Assyrians established their kingdom in Mesopotamia around 2500 BCE.

Babylonian Era

  • The city of Babylon became important after 2000 BCE and led to the region being called Babylonia.
  • The Akkadian script and language spread to the eastern Mediterranean after 2000 BCE.
  • Akkadian speakers arrived in Mesopotamia around 2500 BCE, gradually replacing the Sumerian language.

Assurbanipal and Literacy

  • Assurbanipal played a significant role in the preservation of ancient texts.
  • During Assurbanipal's reign, Babylonia was a center of literacy and culture.
  • Scribes in Babylonia acquired the skill of reading and writing through apprenticeships.

Cuneiform Writing

  • Cuneiform tablets remained intelligible as far back as 2000 BCE until 650 BCE due to the use of a standardized writing system.
  • Copyists showed respect for important texts like the Epic of Gilgamesh by carefully copying and preserving them.
  • Assurbanipal was often referenced at the end of some tablets as a sign of respect and to acknowledge his role in preserving the texts.
  • The word 'cuneiform' literally means "wedge-shaped" and refers to the unique writing style.

Mesopotamian Writing Practices

  • Each transaction in Mesopotamia required a separate written tablet for record-keeping and legal purposes.
  • The Akkadian language replaced Sumerian after 2400 BCE in Mesopotamia.
  • Writing was not used for poetry or fictional storytelling in Mesopotamia.
  • Cuneiform writing in the Akkadian language was used in Mesopotamia for over 2,000 years.
  • The clay tablets were made almost indestructible as pottery due to the use of clay and baking.

Learn about the ancient writing process involving clay tablets and wedge-shaped signs. Discover how cuneiform writing was done using a sharp reed and the importance of drying the clay tablets in the sun.

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