The History of Ancient Sumeria (Sumer) including its cities, kings, religions culture and contributions or civilization

Topics

Abraham and Shinar

Calendar

Cosmology

Culture and Contributions

Cuneiform

Downloadable Cuneiform

Dictionary of  Words

Emergent Cities

Ensi - Lugal

First Historical Personalities

Flood Legends in History

Flood Story

Gods

Houses

Kish

Language

Language Two

Laws

Literary Sources

Mythologies

Sargon The Great

Shuruppak

Sumerian Creation

Territorial States

The City of Ebla

The City of Larsa

The City of Ur

Timeline

Wheel

 Sumerian Writings

Advice about Farming

Contracts (Legal)

Epic of Gilgamesh

Enki and Ninursag

Enki, The God

Hymn to Ishtar

Lament for Ur

Poem Of The Sufferer

Prayer to Shamash

Prayer to Every God

Reforms of Urukagina

Sumerian Creation

Sumerian Inscription

Sumerian King List

Sumerian Proverbs 

The Art of Sumeria

Sumerian Art

"Harpist from Ur"

 by:  Liliana Osses Adams

Other Mesopotamian Peoples

Akkad

Amorites

Assyrians

Babylonians

Chaldeans

Hittites

Kassites

Mesopotamia

 

Map

 

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Ziggurat

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Ziggurat

 

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Cuneiform

Cuneiform was the system of writing used most extensively in the ancient Middle East. Cuneiform was employed for writing a number of languages from about the end of the 4th millennium BC until about the 1st century BC.

The Spread and Development of Cuneiform   Cuneiform Writing System

The most widely used and historically significant writing system of the ancient Middle East was called cuneiform. The term is from the Latin, meaning "wedge-shaped." The writing system was in use at least by the end of the 4th millennium BC, and during the 3rd millennium the pictures that it used became fairly standardized linear drawings. Because they were pressed into soft clay tablets with the slanted edge of a stylus, they came to have a wedge-shaped appearance.

Cuneiform was not a language. It was, like Egyptian hieroglyphics and the Chinese system of ideographs, or ideograms, a picture-writing system that used symbols. As the symbols gained acceptance throughout the Middle East, they could be understood by all ethnic groups even though the groups spoke different languages and dialects.

The earliest known documents in cuneiform were written by the Sumerians of southern Mesopotamia, who assigned their own word-sounds to the symbols. Later, the Akkadians adopted the symbols but pronounced them as corresponding Akkadian words. Cuneiform thus passed successively from one people to another. The Akkadians were succeeded by the Babylonians, and they by the Assyrians.

The expansion of cuneiform writing outside Mesopotamia began during the 3rd millennium BC, when the country of Elam, in what is now southwestern Iran, adopted the system. The Hurrians of northern Mesopotamia adopted Akkadian cuneiform in about 2000 BC and passed it to the Hittites, who had invaded Asia Minor about that time. In the 2nd millennium cuneiform became the universal medium of written communication among the nations of the Middle East.

The Assyrian and Babylonian empires fell in the 7th and 6th centuries BC. By this time Aramaic was becoming the common language of the area, and Phoenician script came into general use. Cuneiform was used less and less, though many priests and scholars kept the writing form alive until the 1st century AD. Cuneiform owes its disappearance largely to the fact that it was a non-alphabetic way of writing. It could not compete successfully with the alphabetic systems being developed by the Phoenicians, Israelites, Greeks, and other peoples of the Mediterranean

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