Stele of Assryian king Assurbanipal (r. 668–627 BC ) of the
Neo-Assyrian Empire (668 BC – c. 627 BC) ritually carrying a
basket to mold the first brick in the rebuilding of E-sagila temple
in Babylon . The E-sagila may be the Tower of Babel found
in the Bible.
See full sized image .
Cuneiform is one of the earliest, if not the earliest form of writing in the world and was in use from 3500 B.C. to the first century of the common era. Its use spread from Mesopotamia to the Iranian plateau in the east and to the Mediterranean as far as Syria in the west . Cuneiform spawned the Phoenician, Hebrew, and Arabic scripts, and which ultimately gave rise to our own alphabet as well. Cuneiform has been used as a logosyllabic, syllabic, and alphabetic script.
Cuneiform was used for such varying languages as Semitic such as Akkadian and Indo-European languages such as Hittite and other isolated language groups such as Hurrian, Elamite and Sumerian. The word, cuneiform is derived from the Latin cuneus "wedge" + form .
The Code of Hammurabi
The last use of Cuneiform
The Enûma Elišh
The Epic of Gilgamish
Cuneiform script on clay tablets is, as far as we know, the oldest form of writing in the world. The resilience of clay has permitted these records to survive for thousands of years, providing a fascinating glimpse into the political, economic, and religious institutions of the ancient Near Eastern societies that used this writing system. A concise and accessible introduction to the topic, this book traces the history of cuneiform from its beginnings in the fourth millennium BC to its eventual demise in the face of the ever expanding use of alphabetic Aramaic in the first millennium BC. The authors explain how this pre-alphabetic system worked and how it was possible to use it to record so many different languages. Drawing on examples from the British Museum, which has the largest and most venerable cuneiform collection in the world, this lively volume includes elementary school exercises, revealing private letters, and beautiful calligraphic literature for royal libraries
Scribes (dubsar ) at the temple yard of Uruk 3,000 BC.
Seated left is a seal cutter, with an apprentice rolling a seal in clay .
The scribe in front is using a stylus for the writing of numbers .