Cuneiform Texts

For the first project, I chose to make myself uncomfortable. I had never researched cuneiform text before. I had no idea where to even start. Luckily, the University of Mary Washington Library had several sources on cuneiform texts. Only archaeologists wrote a few. A historian and a computer programmer wrote the other two. I attempted to prove a fact postulated in a text read in class that stated a linkage between computer programming and cuneiform text. I failed. Even the computer scientist’s writing failed to provide pictures or sources of cuneiform tablets to reinforce and back up his statements. I changed the focus of my project based upon the sources in hand. The books and articles I had discussed the progression of language from pictograms to cuneiform, or pictures to text. When I attempted to make pictograms, I could see the conscious decisions made by the scribe class to progress towards a more text and syllable driven language. It is hard to think about a shift of pictures representing ideas to those ideas becoming sounds and basic letters, but that is exactly what happened. At first, scribes to account for tithes to the religious temples used the pictures. Later on, cuneiform began to be used to write histories, laws, and lineages. Scribes into cuneiform wrote the Code of Hammurabi. I would only have been able to understand the progression by actually practicing the creation of the tablets. Try it some time.


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