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Sumerian Writing


We work very hard in this project.
Here you are going to see something about the Sumerian writing, its origin, its uses and how is it.
We hope you like it.


General Objective
-To know about Sumerian Writing

Specific Objectives:

-To help other people to know more about Sumerians and their culture
-To get more cultural knowledge
-To learn about special symbols
-To learn how to write short texts in cuneiform writing.


First we learn about the parts of a project or presentation, the title, the objectives(General and Specific), the introduction.
Then, we create a folder to organize and classify information in newspapers, magazines, web sites and books.
We made our knowledge reading and finally we did brain maps and summaries.

Origin of the name

The term "Sumerian" is the common name given to the ancient inhabitants of southern Mesopotamia by the successors, the Semitic Akkadians. The Sumerians called themselves Saggiga, literally meaning "the black-headed people". The Akkadian word Shumer may represent this name in dialect


Origin of the Cuneiform Writing

The sumerians were one of the earliest urban societies to emerge in the wolrd, in southern Mesopotamia more than 5000 years ago.
They develope a writing system whose wedge-shaped strokes would infuence the style of scrips in the same geographical area for the next 3000 years.

Eventually all of this diverse writing system, which encompass both legophonetic, consonatal , alfabetic , and sylabic system, became know as cuneiform.

Description of Sumerian Writing

This is already a complete system with over 700 different signs.Sumerian is the first know writing language. Its script, called Cuneiform, meaning "Wedge-shaped". The Cuneiform script is one of the earliest know forms of written expression.Cuneiform Writing began as a system of Pictographs. Over time, the pictoral representations became simplified and more abstract.Cuneiforms were writing on clay tablets, on which symbols were drawn with a blue reed called a stylus.

During the time the Sumerian Writing was changing. A change was that this early system involved the "style" of the signs. The early signs were more "linear" in that the strokes making up the signs were lines and curves. But starting after 3000 BCE these strokes started to evolve into wedges, thus changing the visual style of the signs from linear to "cuneiform". (1)

By 2800 BCE the writing system started to exhibit use of phonetic elements. As the Sumerian language had a high number of monosyllabic words, there was a high degree of homophony, meaning that there is a large number of words that sound alike or identical. This presented the possibility of rebus writing, where sign for one word is used to represent another word that has a similar or identical sound. (2)

Another peculiarity of the writing system is polyphony, where many words that have similar meaning but vastly different sounds are written with the same sign.
In addition to use of phonetic signs to spell out new words, new signs were created by adding graphic elements to an existing sign or combining two existing signs. The additional graphic element could be geometric patterns without any meaning, or could be another cuneiform sign. (3)

As the system grew more complex, it became hard to tell if a sign was being used as a logogram or a syllabogram (or even which one of the potential sound values the syllabogram can have). To help with the ambiguity, several logograms were overloaded to become "determinatives". They would precede or follow a group of signs that make up a word, and gives a hint to meaning of the word by marking the broad category of objects or ideas the word belongs to. (4)

The Numeric System
is both decimal (base-10) and sexagesimal (base-60). This means that there are unique symbols for each of the bases, as well as combinations and powers of the bases. So for example, the number nine would be represented by nine copies of the "1" sign, but the number ten would be represented only by the "10" sign. The number sixty would be represented only by the "60" sign, and the number seventy would be the "60" sign followed by the "10" sign. (5)

The sexagesimal part of this system survives in the modern era in units of time (seconds and minutes) and of trigonometry (360 degrees).

Uses of Sumerian Writing

Their role should be primarily economic, to control and manage the wealth of the temples. The first clay tablets recorded the sale of products such as grain, beer and livestock.Others are lists on which the scribes learn to read and write.The signs are often obvious meaning of simple figures in which, for example, represents a spike barley.

Created on April 19, 1996
Retrieved on March 01, 2009
Author: Lawrence Lo
Last visit: Sunday March 8
Last Updated: March 1 2009
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Last modified: On June 2009 at 20:39