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Cuneiform
Xerxes Cuneiform Van.JPG
Trilingual cuneiform inscription of Xerxes I at Van Fortress in Turkey, written in Old Persian, Elamite and Babylonian forms of cuneiform
Type
LanguagesSumerian, Akkadian, Eblaite, Elamite, Hittite, Hurrian, Luwian, Urartian, Old Persian, Palaic
Createdaround 3200 BC[1]
Time period
c. 31st century BC to 2nd century AD
Parent systems
(Proto-writing)
  • Cuneiform
Child systems
None; influenced the shape of Ugaritic and Old Persian glyphs
DirectionLeft-to-right
ISO 15924Xsux, 020
Unicode alias
Cuneiform

Cuneiform[a] is a logo-syllabic script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East.[4] The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the Common Era.[5] It is named for the characteristic wedge-shaped impressions (Latin: cuneus) which form its signs. Cuneiform originally developed to write the Sumerian language of southern Mesopotamia (modern Iraq). Along with Egyptian hieroglyphs, it is one of the earlies

Cuneiform[a] is a logo-syllabic script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East.[4] The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the Common Era.[5] It is named for the characteristic wedge-shaped impressions (Latin: cuneus) which form its signs. Cuneiform originally developed to write the Sumerian language of southern Mesopotamia (modern Iraq). Along with Egyptian hieroglyphs, it is one of the earliest writing systems.

Over the course of its history, cuneiform was adapted to write a number of languages linguistically unrelated to Sumerian. Akkadian texts are attested from the 24th century BC onward and make up the bulk of the cuneiform record.[6][7] Akkadian cuneiform was itself adapted to write the Hittite language sometime around the 17th century BC.[8][9] The other languages with significant cuneiform corpora are Eblaite, Elamite, Hurrian, Luwian, and Urartian.

The latest known date for a cuneiform tablet is 75 AD.[10] The modern study of cuneiform writing begins with its decipherment in the mid-19th century, and belongs to the field of Assyriology. An estimated half a million tablets are held in museums across the world, but comparatively few of these are published. The largest collections belong to the British Museum (approx. 130,000 tablets), the Vorderasiatisches Museum Berlin, the Louvre, the Istanbul Archaeology Museums, the National Museum of Iraq, the Yale Babylonian Collection (approx. 40,000 tablets), and Penn Museum.[11]