British Museum Babylonian Tablets Cuneiform Sumer Ur Uruk Borsippa Achaemenid

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Seller: Top-Rated Seller ancientgifts (4,699) 100%, Location: Lummi Island, Washington, Ships to: Worldwide, Item: 382459186218 "Catalogue of the Babylonian Tablets in the British Museum: Volume III" (Third Edition) by M. Sigrist, Ran Zadok, and C. B. F. Walker. NOTE: We have 75,000 books in our library, almost 10,000 different titles. Odds are we have other copies of this same title in varying conditions, some less expensive, some better condition. We might also have different editions as well (some paperback, some hardcover, oftentimes international editions). If you don’t see what you want, please contact us and ask. We’re happy to send you a summary of the differing conditions and prices we may have for the same title. DESCRIPTION: Hardcover with dustjacket. Publisher: British Museum (2006). Pages: 352. Size: 11 x 7¾ x 1¼ inches; 3¼ pounds. Summary: This catalogue is the third in a series publishing the whole collection of Babylonian and Sumerian tablets in the British Museum. In this volume over 7,000 tablets acquired in the years 1898-9 are described. They include Sumerian tablets from the administrative archives of the district of Lagash of the time of the Third Dynasty of Ur, Old Babylonian tablets from the cities of Kisurra, Larsa, Sippar and Uruk, and tablets of the Neo-Babylonian and Achaemenid periods from Babylon and Borsippa. There is also a small number of literary and historical texts. CONDITION: NEW. HUGE, new (albeit mildly "shopworn") hardcover w/dustjacket. British Museum (2006) 352 pages. Still in manufacturer's original wraps, however the cover corners are very lightly bumped, moreso to the front cover than the back. The bumping is not so heavy that the pages beneath would be bent or echo the bumps. Just very mild corner bumping, superficial and cosmetic in nature. I am sure that inside the book is pristine; the pages clean, crisp, unmarked, unmutilated, tightly bound, unambiguously unread. Condition is entirely consistent with new stock from a bookstore environment wherein new books might show signs of shelfwear or "shopwear", consequence of simply being shelved and re-shelved. Satisfaction unconditionally guaranteed. In stock, ready to ship. No disappointments, no excuses. PROMPT SHIPPING! HEAVILY PADDED, DAMAGE-FREE PACKAGING! #8900d. PLEASE SEE DESCRIPTIONS AND IMAGES BELOW FOR DETAILED REVIEWS AND FOR PAGES OF PICTURES FROM INSIDE OF BOOK. PLEASE SEE PUBLISHER, PROFESSIONAL, AND READER REVIEWS BELOW. PUBLISHER REVIEWS: REVIEW: M. Sigrist of the Ecole Biblique, Jerusalem, is author of several books on the archives of the Third Dynasty of Ur. R. Zadok is Professor of Mesopotamian, Iranian and Judaic Studies at Tel-Aviv University and author of numerous studies of the society and economy of Mesopotamia in the first millennium B.C. C. B. F. Walker is Deputy Keeper of the Department of the Ancient Near East at the British Museum. He has published several books on letters and historical and scientific texts from Babylonia in the Museum's collections. TABLE OF CONTENTS: Preface. Foreward. Abbreviations. Catalogue. Indices: Ur III Chronology. Ur III Personal Names. Ur III Seal Impressions. Ur III Official Terms. Ur III Provenances. Ur III General Index. Old Babylonian Chronology. Old Babylonian Personal Names. Old Babylonian Seal Impressions. Old Babylonian Provenances. Old Babylonian General Index. Neo-Babylonian and Achaemenid Chronology. Neo-Babylonian and Achaemenid Personal Names. Neo-Babylonian and Achaemenid Provenances. Neo-Babylonian and Achaemenid General Index. Other Periods. Divine Names. Field Names. Toponyms. Month Names. Year Names. PROFESSIONAL REVIEWS: REVIEW: It is a pleasure to welcome another volume of the British Museums catalogue of its collection of cuneiform tablets...The catalogue is a model of providing a maximum amount of information in a succinct way. [The University of Chicago Journal of Near Eastern Studies]. ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND: REVIEW: The World's Oldest Writing. In early 2016, hundreds of media outlets around the world reported that a set of recently deciphered ancient clay tablets revealed that Babylonian astronomers were more sophisticated than previously believed. The wedge-shaped writing on the tablets, known as cuneiform, demonstrated that these ancient stargazers used geometric calculations to predict the motion of Jupiter. Scholars had assumed it wasn’t until almost A.D. 1400 that these techniques were first employed—by English and French mathematicians. But here was proof that nearly 2,000 years earlier, ancient people were every bit as advanced as Renaissance-era scholars. Judging by the story’s enthusiastic reception on social media, this discovery captured the public imagination. It implicitly challenged the perception that cuneiform tablets were used merely for basic accounting, such as tallying grain, rather than for complex astronomical calculations. While most tablets were, in fact, used for mundane bookkeeping or scribal exercises, some of them bear inscriptions that offer unexpected insights into the minute details of and momentous events in the lives of ancient Mesopotamians. First developed around 3200 B.C. by Sumerian scribes in the ancient city-state of Uruk, in present-day Iraq, as a means of recording transactions, cuneiform writing was created by using a reed stylus to make wedge-shaped indentations in clay tablets. Later scribes would chisel cuneiform into a variety of stone objects as well. Different combinations of these marks represented syllables, which could in turn be put together to form words. Cuneiform as a robust writing tradition endured 3,000 years. The script—not itself a language—was used by scribes of multiple cultures over that time to write a number of languages other than Sumerian, most notably Akkadian, a Semitic language that was the lingua franca of the Assyrian and Babylonian Empires. After cuneiform was replaced by alphabetic writing sometime after the first century A.D., the hundreds of thousands of clay tablets and other inscribed objects went unread for nearly 2,000 years. It wasn’t until the early nineteenth century, when archaeologists first began to excavate the tablets, that scholars could begin to attempt to understand these texts. One important early key to deciphering the script proved to be the discovery of a kind of cuneiform Rosetta Stone, a circa 500 B.C. trilingual inscription at the site of Bisitun Pass in Iran. Written in Persian, Akkadian, and an Iranian language known as Elamite, it recorded the feats of the Achaemenid king Darius the Great (r. 521–486 B.C.). By deciphering repetitive words such as “Darius” and “king” in Persian, scholars were able to slowly piece together how cuneiform worked. Called Assyriologists, these specialists were eventually able to translate different languages written in cuneiform across many eras, though some early versions of the script remain undeciphered. Today, the ability to read cuneiform is the key to understanding all manner of cultural activities in the ancient Near East—from determining what was known of the cosmos and its workings, to the august lives of Assyrian kings, to the secrets of making a Babylonian stew. Of the estimated half-million cuneiform objects that have been excavated, many have yet to be catalogued and translated. Here, a few fine and varied examples of some of the most interesting ones that have been. [Archaeological Institute of America]. REVIEW: Babylon is the most famous city from ancient Mesopotamia whose ruins lie in modern-day Iraq 59 miles (94 kilometres) southwest of Baghdad. The name is thought to derive from bav-il or bav-ilim which, in the Akkadian language of the time, meant ‘Gate of God’ or `Gate of the Gods’ and `Babylon’ coming from Greek. The city owes its fame (or infamy) to the many references the Bible makes to it; all of which are unfavourable. In the Book of Genesis, chapter 11, Babylon is featured in the story of The Tower of Babel and the Hebrews claimed the city was named for the confusion which ensued after God caused the people to begin speaking in different languages so they would not be able to complete their great tower to the heavens (the Hebrew word bavel means `confusion’). Babylon also appears prominently in the biblical books of Daniel, Jeremiah, and Isaiah, among others, and, most notably, The Book of Revelation. It was these biblical references which sparked interest in Mesopotamian archaeology and the expedition by the German archaeologist Robert Koldewey who first excavated the ruins of Babylon in 1899 CE. Outside of the sinful reputation given it by the Bible, the city is known for its impressive walls and buildings, its reputation as a great seat of learning and culture, the formation of a code of law which pre-dates the Mosaic Law, and for the Hanging Gardens of Babylon which were man-made terraces of flora and fauna, watered by machinery, which were cited by Herodotus as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Babylon was founded at some point prior to the reign of Sargon of Akkad (also known as Sargon the Great) who ruled from 2334-2279 BCE and claimed to have built temples at Babylon (other ancient sources seem to indicate that Sargon himself founded the city). At that time, Babylon seems to have been a minor city or perhaps a large port town on the Euphrates River at the point where it runs closest to the river Tigris. Whatever early role the city played in the ancient world is lost to modern-day scholars because the water level in the region has risen steadily over the centuries and the ruins of Old Babylon have become inaccessible. The ruins which were excavated by Koldewey, and are visible today, date only to well over one thousand years after the city was founded. The historian Paul Kriwaczek, among other scholars, claims it was established by the Amorites following the collapse of the Third Dynasty of Ur. This information, and any other pertaining to Old Babylon, comes to us today through artifacts which were carried away from the city after the Persian invasion or those which were created elsewhere. The known history of Babylon, then, begins with its most famous king: Hammurabi (1792-1750 BCE). This obscure Amorite prince ascended to the throne upon the abdication of his father, King Sin-Muballit, and fairly quickly transformed the city into one of the most powerful and influential in all of Mesopotamia. Hammurabi’s law codes are well known but are only one example of the policies he implemented to maintain peace and encourage prosperity. He enlarged and heightened the walls of the city, engaged in great public works which included opulent temples and canals, and made diplomacy an integral part of his administration. So successful was he in both diplomacy and war that, by 1755 BCE, he had united all of Mesopotamia under the rule of Babylon which, at this time, was the largest city in the world, and named his realm Babylonia. Following Hammurabi’s death, his empire fell apart and Babylonia dwindled in size and scope until Babylon was easily sacked by the Hittites in 1595 BCE. The Kassites followed the Hittites and re-named the city Karanduniash. The meaning of this name is not clear. The Assyrians then followed the Kassites in dominating the region and, under the reign of the Assyrian ruler Sennacherib (reigned 705-681 BCE), Babylon revolted. Sennacherib had the city sacked, razed, and the ruins scattered as a lesson to others. His extreme measures were considered impious by the people generally and Sennacherib’s court specifically and he was soon after assassinated by his sons. His successor, Esarhaddon, re-built Babylon and returned it to its former glory. The city later rose in revolt against Ashurbanipal of Nineveh who besieged and defeated the city but did not damage it to any great extent and, in fact, personally purified Babylon of the evil spirits which were thought to have led to the trouble. The reputation of the city as a center of learning and culture was already well established by this time. After the fall of the Assyrian Empire, a Chaldean named Nabopolassar took the throne of Babylon and, through careful alliances, created the Neo-Babylonian Empire. His son, Nebuchadnezzar II (604-561 BCE), renovated the city so that it covered 900 hectares (2,200 acres) of land and boasted some the most beautiful and impressive structures in all of Mesopotamia. Every ancient writer to make mention of the city of Babylon, outside of those responsible for the stories in the Bible, does so with a tone of awe and reverence. Herodotus, for example, writes: "The city stands on a broad plain, and is an exact square, a hundred and twenty stadia in length each way, so that the entire circuit is four hundred and eighty stadia. While such is its size, in magnificence there is no other city that approaches to it. It is surrounded, in the first place, by a broad and deep moat, full of water, behind which rises a wall fifty royal cubits in width and two hundred in height." Although it is generally believed that Herodotus greatly exaggerated the dimensions of the city (and may never have actually visited the place himself) his description echoes the admiration of other writers of the time who recorded the magnificence of Babylon, and especially the great walls, as a wonder of the world. It was under Nebuchadnezzar II’s reign that the Hanging Gardens of Babylon are said to have been constructed and the famous Ishtar Gate built. The Hanging gardens are most explicitly described in a passage from Diodorus Siculus (90-30 BCE) in his work Bibliotheca Historica Book II. There was also, because the acropolis, the Hanging Garden, as it is called, which was built, not by Semiramis, but by a later Syrian king to please one of his concubines; for she, they say, being a Persian by race and longing for the meadows of her mountains, asked the king to imitate, through the artifice of a planted garden, the distinctive landscape of Persia. The park extended four plethra on each side, and since the approach to the garden sloped like a hillside and the several parts of the structure rose from one another tier on tier, the appearance of the whole resembled that of a theatre. When the ascending terraces had been built, there had been constructed beneath them galleries which carried the entire weight of the planted garden and rose little by little one above the other along the approach; and the uppermost gallery, which was fifty cubits high, bore the highest surface of the park, which was made level with the circuit wall of the battlements of the city. Furthermore, the walls, which had been constructed at great expense, were twenty-two feet thick, while the passage-way between each two walls was ten feet wide. The roofs of the galleries were covered over with beams of stone sixteen feet long, inclusive of the overlap, and four feet wide. The roof above these beams had first a layer of reeds laid in great quantities of bitumen, over this two courses of baked brick bonded by cement, and as a third layer a covering of lead, to the end that the moisture from the soil might not penetrate beneath. On all this again earth had been piled to a depth sufficient for the roots of the largest trees; and the ground, which was levelled off, was thickly planted with trees of every kind that, by their great size or any other charm, could give pleasure to beholder. And since the galleries, each projecting beyond another, all received the light, they contained many royal lodgings of every description; and there was one gallery which contained openings leading from the topmost surface and machines for supplying the garden with water, the machines raising the water in great abundance from the river, although no one outside could see it being done. Now this park, as I have said, was a later construction. This part of Diodorus' work concerns the semi-mythical queen Semiramis (most probably based on the actual Assyrian queen Sammu-Ramat who reigned 811-806 BCE). His reference to "a later Syrian king" follows Herodotus' tendency of referring to Mesopotamia as `Assyria'. Recent scholarship on the subject argues that the Hanging Gardens were never located at Babylon but were instead the creation Sennacherib at his capital of Nineveh. The historian Christopher Scarre writes: "Sennacherib’s palace [at Nineveh] had all the usual accoutrements of a major Assyrian residence: colossal guardian figures and impressively carved stone reliefs (over 2,000 sculptured slabs in 71 rooms). Its gardens, too, were exceptional. Recent research by British Assyriologist Stephanie Dalley has suggested that these were the famous Hanging Gardens, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Later writers placed the Hanging Gardens at Babylon, but extensive research has failed to find any trace of them. Sennacherib’s proud account of the palace gardens he created at Nineveh fits that of the Hanging Gardens in several significant details." This period in which the Hanging Gardens were allegedly built was also the time of the Babylonian Exile of the Jews and the period in which the Babylonian Talmud was written. The Euphrates River divided the city in two between an `old’ and a `new’ city with the Temple of Marduk and the great towering ziggurat in the center. Streets and avenues were widened to better accommodate the yearly processional of the statue of the great god Marduk in the journey from his home temple in the city to the New Year Festival Temple outside the Ishtar Gate. The Neo-Babylonian Empire continued after the death of Nebuchadnezzar II and Babylon continued to play an important role in the region under the rule of Nabonidus and his successor Belshazzar (featured in the biblical Book of Daniel). In 539 BCE the empire fell to the Persians under Cyrus the Great at the Battle of Opis. Babylon’s walls were impregnable and so the Persians cleverly devised a plan whereby they diverted the course of the Euphrates River so that it fell to a manageable depth. While the residents of the city were distracted by one of their great religious feast days, the Persian army waded the river and marched under the walls of Babylon unnoticed. It was claimed the city was taken without a fight although documents of the time indicate that repairs had to be made to the walls and some sections of the city and so perhaps the action was not as effortless as the Persian account maintained. Under Persian rule, Babylon flourished as a center of art and education. Cyrus and his successors held the city in great regard and made it the administrative capital of their empire (although at one point the Persian emperor Xerxes felt obliged to lay siege to the city after another revolt). Babylonian mathematics, cosmology, and astronomy were highly respected and it is thought that Thales of Miletus (known as the first western philosopher) may have studied there and that Pythagoras developed his famous mathematical theorem based upon a Babylonian model. When, after two hundred years, the Persian Empire fell to Alexander the Great in 331 BCE, he also gave great reverence to the city, ordering his men not to damage the buildings nor molest the inhabitants. The historian Stephen Bertman writes, “Before his death, Alexander the Great ordered the superstructure of Babylon’s ziggurat pulled down in order that it might be rebuilt with greater splendor. But he never lived to bring his project to completion. Over the centuries, its scattered bricks have been cannibalized by peasants to fulfill humbler dreams. All that is left of the fabled Tower of Babel is the bed of a swampy pond.” After Alexander’s death at Babylon, his successors (known as `The Diadochi’, Greek for `successors’) fought over his empire generally and the city specifically to the point where the residents fled for their safety (or, according to one ancient report, were re-located). By the time the Parthian Empire ruled the region in 141 BCE Babylon was deserted and forgotten. The city steadily fell into ruin and, even during a brief revival under the Sassanid Persians, never approached its former greatness. In the Muslim conquest of the land in 650 CE whatever remained of Babylon was swept away and, in time, was buried beneath the sands. In the 17th and 18th centuries CE European travelers began to explore the area and return home with various artifacts. These cuneiform blocks and statues led to an increased interest in the region and, by the 19th century CE, an interest in biblical archaeology drew men like Robert Koldewey who uncovered the ruins of the once great city of the Gate of the Gods. REVIEW: Cuneiform script, one of the earliest systems of writing, was invented by the Sumerians. It is distinguished by its wedge-shaped marks on clay tablets, made by means of a blunt reed for a stylus. The name cuneiform itself simply means "wedge shaped". Emerging in Sumer in the late fourth millennium BC (the Uruk IV period), cuneiform writing began as a system of pictograms. In the third millennium, the pictorial representations became simplified and more abstract as the number of characters in use grew smaller (Hittite cuneiform). The system consists of a combination of logophonetic, consonantal alphabetic and syllabic signs. The original Sumerian script was adapted for the writing of the Akkadian, Eblaite, Elamite, Hittite, Luwian, Hattic, Hurrian, and Urartian languages, and it inspired the Ugaritic alphabet and Old Persian cuneiform. Cuneiform writing was gradually replaced by the Phoenician alphabet during the Neo-Assyrian Empire (911–612 BC). By the second century AD, the script had become extinct, and all knowledge of how to read it was lost until it began to be deciphered in the 19th century. Between half a million and two million cuneiform tablets are estimated to have been excavated in modern times, of which only approximately 30,000 – 100,000 have been read or published. The British Museum holds the largest collection (around 130,000), followed by the Vorderasiatisches Museum Berlin, the Louvre, the Istanbul Archaeology Museums, the National Museum of Iraq, the Yale Babylonian Collection (around 40,000) and Penn Museum. Most of these have "lain in these collections for a century without being translated, studied or published," as there are only a few hundred qualified cuneiformists in the world. The cuneiform writing system was in use for more than three millennia, through several stages of development, from the 34th century BC down to the second century AD. Ultimately, it was completely replaced by alphabetic writing (in the general sense) in the course of the Roman era and there are no cuneiform systems in current use. It had to be deciphered as a completely unknown writing system in 19th-century Assyriology. Successful completion of its deciphering is dated to 1857. The cuneiform script underwent considerable changes over a period of more than two millennia. The cuneiform script was developed from pictographic proto-writing in the late 4th millennium BC. Mesopotamia's "proto-literate" period spans roughly the 35th to 32nd centuries. The first documents unequivocally written in Sumerian date to the 31st century at Jemdet Nasr. Originally, pictographs were either drawn on clay tablets in vertical columns with a sharpened reed stylus or incised in stone. This early style lacked the characteristic wedge shape of the strokes. Certain signs to indicate names of gods, countries, cities, vessels, birds, trees, etc., are known as determinatives, and were the Sumerian signs of the terms in question, added as a guide for the reader. Proper names continued to be usually written in purely "logographic" fashion. The earliest known Sumerian king whose name appears on contemporary cuneiform tablets is Enmebaragesi of Kish. Surviving records only very gradually become less fragmentary and more complete for the following reigns, but by the end of the pre-Sargonic period, it had become standard practice for each major city-state to date documents by year-names commemorating the exploits of its lugal (king). From about 2900 BC, many pictographs began to lose their original function, and a given sign could have various meanings depending on context. The sign inventory was reduced from some 1,500 signs to some 600 signs, and writing became increasingly phonological. Determinative signs were re-introduced to avoid ambiguity. Cuneiform writing proper thus arises from the more primitive system of pictographs at about that time (Early Bronze Age II). In the mid-3rd millennium BC, writing direction was changed to left-to-right in horizontal rows (rotating all of the pictographs 90° counter-clockwise in the process), and a new wedge-tipped stylus was used which was pushed into the clay, producing wedge-shaped ("cuneiform") signs; these two developments made writing quicker and easier. By adjusting the relative position of the tablet to the stylus, the writer could use a single tool to make a variety of impressions. Cuneiform tablets could be fired in kilns to provide a permanent record, or they could be recycled if permanence was not needed. Many of the clay tablets found by archaeologists were preserved because they were fired when attacking armies burned the building in which they were kept. The script was also widely used on commemorative stelae and carved reliefs to record the achievements of the ruler in whose honour the monument had been erected. The spoken language included many homophones and near-homophones, and in the beginning similar-sounding words such as "life" [til] and "arrow" [ti] were written with the same symbol. After the Semites conquered Southern Mesopotamia, some signs gradually changed from being pictograms to syllabograms, most likely to make things clearer in writing. In that way the sign for the word "arrow" would become the sign for the sound "ti". Words that sounded alike would have different signs; for instance the syllable "gu" had fourteen different symbols. When the words had similar meaning but very different sounds they were written with the same symbol. For instance "tooth" [zu], "mouth" [ka] and "voice" [gu] were all written with the symbol for "voice". To be more accurate, scribes started adding to signs or combining two signs to define the meaning. They used either geometrical patterns or another cuneiform sign. As time went by, the cuneiform got very complex and the distinction between a pictogram and syllabogram became vague. Several symbols had too many meanings to permit clarity. Therefore, symbols were put together to indicate both the sound and the meaning of a compound. The word "Raven" [UGA] had the same logogram as the word "soap" [NAGA], name of a city [EREŠ] and the patron goddess of Eresh [NISABA]. Two phonetic complements were used to define the word [u] in front of the symbol and [gu] behind. Finally the symbol for "bird" [MUŠEN] was added to ensure proper interpretation. Written Sumerian was used as a scribal language until the first century AD. The spoken language died out around the 18th century BC. The archaic cuneiform script was adopted by the Akkadian Empire from c. 2500 BC, and by 2000 BC had evolved into Old Assyrian cuneiform, with many modifications to Sumerian orthography. The Semitic languages employed equivalents for many signs that were distorted or abbreviated to represent new values because the syllabic nature of the script as refined by the Sumerians was not intuitive to Semitic speakers. At this stage, the former pictograms were reduced to a high level of abstraction, and were composed of only five basic wedge shapes: horizontal, vertical, two diagonals and the Winkelhaken impressed vertically by the tip of the stylus. Most later adaptations of Sumerian cuneiform preserved at least some aspects of the Sumerian script. Written Akkadian included phonetic symbols from the Sumerian syllabary, together with logograms that were read as whole words. Many signs in the script were polyvalent, having both a syllabic and logographic meaning. The complexity of the system bears a resemblance to Old Japanese, written in a Chinese-derived script, where some of these Sinograms were used as logograms, and others as phonetic characters. This "mixed" method of writing continued through the end of the Babylonian and Assyrian empires, although there were periods when "purism" was in fashion and there was a more marked tendency to spell out the words laboriously, in preference to using signs with a phonetic complement. Yet even in those days, the Babylonian syllabary remained a mixture of logographic and phonemic writing. Hittite cuneiform is an adaptation of the Old Assyrian cuneiform of c. 1800 BC to the Hittite language. When the cuneiform script was adapted to writing Hittite, a layer of Akkadian logographic spellings was added to the script, thus the pronunciations of many Hittite words which were conventionally written by logograms are now unknown. In the Iron Age (c. 10th to 6th centuries BC), Assyrian cuneiform was further simplified. From the 6th century, the Akkadian language was marginalized by Aramaic, written in the Aramaean alphabet, but Neo-Assyrian cuneiform remained in use in literary tradition well into times of Parthian Empire (250 BC – AD 226). The last known cuneiform inscription, an astronomical text, was written in 75 AD. The complexity of the system prompted the development of a number of simplified versions of the script. Old Persian was written in a subset of simplified cuneiform characters known today as Old Persian cuneiform. It formed a semi-alphabetic syllabary, using far fewer wedge strokes than Assyrian used, together with a handful of logograms for frequently occurring words like "god" and "king". Ugaritic was written using the Ugaritic alphabet, a standard Semitic style alphabet (an abjad) written using the cuneiform method. For centuries, travellers to Persepolis, in modern-day Iran, had noticed carved cuneiform inscriptions and were intrigued. Attempts at deciphering these Old Persian writings date back to Arabo-Persian historians of the medieval Islamic world, though these early attempts at decipherment were largely unsuccessful. In the 15th century, the Venetian Barbero explored ancient ruins in the Middle East and came back with news of a very odd writing he had found carved on the stones in the temples of Shiraz and on many clay tablets. Antoine de Gouvea, a professor of theology, noted in 1602 the strange writing he had had occasion to observe during his travels a year earlier in Persia which took in visits to ruins. In 1625, the Roman traveler Pietro Della Valle, who had sojourned in Mesopotamia between 1616 and 1621, brought to Europe copies of characters he had seen in Persepolis and inscribed bricks from Ur and the ruins of Babylon. The copies he made, the first that reached circulation within Europe, were not quite accurate but Della Valle understood that the writing had to be read from left to right, following the direction of wedges, but did not attempt to decipher the scripts. Englishman Sir Thomas Herbert, in the 1634 edition of his travel book A relation of some yeares travaile, reported seeing at Persepolis carved on the wall “a dozen lines of strange characters…consisting of figures, obelisk, triangular, and pyramidal” and thought they resembled Greek. In the 1664 edition he reproduced some and thought they were ‘legible and intelligible’ and therefore decipherable. He also guessed, correctly, that they represented not letters or hieroglyphics but words and syllables, and were to be read from left to right. Herbert is rarely mentioned in standard histories of the decipherment of cuneiform. Carsten Niebuhr brought the first reasonably complete and accurate copies of the inscriptions at Persepolis to Europe in 1767. Bishop Friedrich Münter of Copenhagen discovered that the words in the Persian inscriptions were divided from one another by an oblique wedge and that the monuments must belong to the age of Cyrus and his successors. One word, which occurs without any variation towards the beginning of each inscription, he correctly inferred to signify "king". By 1802 Georg Friedrich Grotefend had determined that two kings' names mentioned were Darius and Xerxes (but in their native Old Persian forms, which were unknown at the time and therefore had to be conjectured), and had been able to assign correct alphabetic values to the cuneiform characters which composed the two names. Although Grotefend's Memoir was presented to the Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities on September 4, 1802, the Academy refused to publish it; it was subsequently published in Heeren's work in 1815, but was overlooked by most researchers at the time. In 1836, the eminent French scholar Eugène Burnouf discovered that the first of the inscriptions published by Niebuhr contained a list of the satrapies of Darius. With this clue in his hand, he identified and published an alphabet of thirty letters, most of which he had correctly deciphered. A month earlier, a friend and pupil of Burnouf's, Professor Christian Lassen of Bonn, had also published his own work on The Old Persian Cuneiform Inscriptions of Persepolis. He and Burnouf had been in frequent correspondence, and his claim to have independently detected the names of the satrapies, and thereby to have fixed the values of the Persian characters, was consequently fiercely attacked. According to Sayce, whatever his obligations to Burnouf may have been, Lassen's contributions to the decipherment of the inscriptions were numerous and important. He succeeded in fixing the true values of nearly all the letters in the Persian alphabet, in translating the texts, and in proving that the language of them was not Zend, but stood to both Zend and Sanskrit in the relation of a sister. Meanwhile, in 1835 Henry Rawlinson, a British East India Company army officer, visited the Behistun Inscriptions in Persia. Carved in the reign of King Darius of Persia (522–486 BC), they consisted of identical texts in the three official languages of the empire: Old Persian, Babylonian, and Elamite. The Behistun inscription was to the decipherment of cuneiform what the Rosetta Stone was to the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs. Rawlinson correctly deduced that the Old Persian was a phonetic script and he successfully deciphered it. In 1837 he finished his copy of the Behistun inscription, and sent a translation of its opening paragraphs to the Royal Asiatic Society. Before his article could be published, however, the works of Lassen and Burnouf reached him, necessitating a revision of his article and the postponement of its publication. Then came other causes of delay. In 1847 the first part of the Rawlinson's Memoir was published; the second part did not appear until 1849. The task of deciphering the Persian cuneiform texts was virtually accomplished. After translating the Persian, Rawlinson and, working independently of him, the Irish Assyriologist Edward Hincks, began to decipher the others. (The actual techniques used to decipher the Akkadian language have never been fully published; Hincks described how he sought the proper names already legible in the deciphered Persian while Rawlinson never said anything at all, leading some to speculate that he was secretly copying Hincks.) They were greatly helped by the excavations of the French Paul Émile Botta and English Austen Henry Layard of the city of Nineveh from 1842. Among the treasures uncovered by Layard and his successor Hormuzd Rassam were, in 1849 and 1851, the remains of two libraries, now mixed up, usually called the Library of Ashurbanipal, a royal archive containing tens of thousands of baked clay tablets covered with cuneiform inscriptions. By 1851, Hincks and Rawlinson could read 200 Babylonian signs. They were soon joined by two other decipherers: young German-born scholar Julius Oppert, and versatile British Orientalist William Henry Fox Talbot. In 1857 the four men met in London and took part in a famous experiment to test the accuracy of their decipherments. Edwin Norris, the secretary of the Royal Asiatic Society, gave each of them a copy of a recently discovered inscription from the reign of the Assyrian emperor Tiglath-Pileser I. A jury of experts was empanelled to examine the resulting translations and assess their accuracy. In all essential points the translations produced by the four scholars were found to be in close agreement with one another. There were of course some slight discrepancies. The inexperienced Talbot had made a number of mistakes, and Oppert's translation contained a few doubtful passages which the jury politely ascribed to his unfamiliarity with the English language. But Hincks' and Rawlinson's versions corresponded remarkably closely in many respects. The jury declared itself satisfied, and the decipherment of Akkadian cuneiform was adjudged a fait accompli. In the early days of cuneiform decipherment, the reading of proper names presented the greatest difficulties. However, there is now a better understanding of the principles behind the formation and the pronunciation of the thousands of names found in historical records, business documents, votive inscriptions, literary productions and legal documents. The primary challenge was posed by the characteristic use of old Sumerian non-phonetic logograms in other languages that had different pronunciations for the same symbols. Until the exact phonetic reading of many names was determined through parallel passages or explanatory lists, scholars remained in doubt, or had recourse to conjectural or provisional readings. Fortunately, in many cases, there are variant readings, the same name being written phonetically (in whole or in part) in one instance, and logographically in another. Cuneiform has a specific format for transliteration. Because of the script's polyvalence, transliteration requires certain choices of the transliterating scholar, who must decide in the case of each sign which of its several possible meanings is intended in the original document. For example, the sign DINGIR in a Hittite text may represent either the Hittite syllable an or may be part of an Akkadian phrase, representing the syllable il, it may be a Sumerogram, representing the original Sumerian meaning, 'god' or the determinative for a deity. In transliteration, a different rendition of the same glyph is chosen depending on its role in the present context. Therefore, a text containing DINGIR and MU in succession could be construed to represent the words "ana", "ila", god + "a" (the accusative case ending), god + water, or a divine name "A" or Water. Someone transcribing the signs would make the decision how the signs should be read and assemble the signs as "ana", "ila", "Ila" ("god"+accusative case), etc. A transliteration of these signs, however, would separate the signs with dashes "il-a", "an-a", "DINGIR-a" or "Da". This is still easier to read than the original cuneiform, but now the reader is able to trace the sounds back to the original signs and determine if the correct decision was made on how to read them. A transliterated document thus presents the reading preferred by the transliterating scholar as well as an opportunity to reconstruct the original text. There are differing conventions for transliterating Sumerian, Akkadian (Babylonian) and Hittite (and Luwian) cuneiform texts. One convention that sees wide use across the different fields is the use of acute and grave accents as an abbreviation for homophone disambiguation. Thus, u is equivalent to u1, the first glyph expressing phonetic u. An acute accent, ú, is equivalent to the second, u2, and a grave accent ù to the third, u3 glyph in the series (while the sequence of numbering is conventional but essentially arbitrary and subject to the history of decipherment). In Sumerian transliteration, a multiplication sign 'x' is used to indicate typographic ligatures. As shown above, signs as such are represented in capital letters, while the specific reading selected in the transliteration is represented in small letters. Thus, capital letters can be used to indicate a so-called Diri compound – a sign sequence that has, in combination, a reading different from the sum of the individual constituent signs (for example, the compound IGI.A – "water" + "eye" – has the reading imhur, meaning "foam"). In a Diri compound, the individual signs are separated with dots in transliteration. Capital letters may also be used to indicate a Sumerogram (for example, KÙ.BABBAR – Sumerian for "silver" – being used with the intended Akkadian reading kaspum, "silver"), an Akkadogram, or simply a sign sequence of whose reading the editor is uncertain. Naturally, the "real" reading, if it is clear, will be presented in small letters in the transliteration: IGI.A will be rendered as imhur4. Since the Sumerian language has only been widely known and studied by scholars for approximately a century, changes in the accepted reading of Sumerian names have occurred from time to time. Thus the name of a king of Ur, read Ur-Bau at one time, was later read as Ur-Engur, and is now read as Ur-Nammu or Ur-Namma; for Lugal-zage-si, a king of Uruk, some scholars continued to read Ungal-zaggisi; and so forth. Also, with some names of the older period, there was often uncertainty whether their bearers were Sumerians or Semites. If the former, then their names could be assumed to be read as Sumerian, while, if they were Semites, the signs for writing their names were probably to be read according to their Semitic equivalents, though occasionally Semites might be encountered bearing genuine Sumerian names. There was also doubt whether the signs composing a Semite's name represented a phonetic reading or a logographic compound. Thus, e.g. when inscriptions of a Semitic ruler of Kish, whose name was written Uru-mu-ush, were first deciphered, that name was first taken to be logographic because uru mu-ush could be read as "he founded a city" in Sumerian, and scholars accordingly retranslated it back to the original Semitic as Alu-usharshid. It was later recognized that the URU sign can also be read as rí and that the name is that of the Akkadian king Rimush. The Sumerian cuneiform script had on the order of 1,000 distinct signs (or about 1,500 if variants are included). This number was reduced to about 600 by the 24th century BC and the beginning of Akkadian records. Not all Sumerian signs are used in Akkadian texts, and not all Akkadian signs are used in Hittite. Falkenstein (1936) lists 939 signs used in the earliest period (late Uruk, 34th to 31st centuries). With an emphasis on Sumerian forms, Deimel (1922) lists 870 signs used in the Early Dynastic II period (28th century, "LAK") and for the Early Dynastic IIIa period (26th century, "ŠL"). Rosengarten (1967) lists 468 signs used in Sumerian (pre-Sargonian). Lagash and Mittermayer ("aBZL", 2006) list 480 Sumerian forms, written in Isin-Larsa and Old Babylonian times. Regarding Akkadian forms, the standard handbook for many years was Borger ("ABZ", 1981) with 598 signs used in Assyrian/Babylonian writing, recently superseded by Borger ("MesZL", 2004) with an expansion to 907 signs, an extension of their Sumerian readings and a new numbering scheme. Signs used in Hittite cuneiform are listed by Forrer (1922), Friedrich (1960) and the HZL (Rüster and Neu 1989). The HZL lists a total of 375 signs, many with variants (for example, 12 variants are given for number 123 EGIR). The Sumerians used a numerical system based on 1, 10 and 60. The way of writing a number like 70 would be the sign for 60 and the sign for 10 right after. This way of counting is still used today for measuring time as 60 seconds per minute and 60 minutes per hour. Cuneiform script was used in many ways in ancient Mesopotamia. It was used to record laws, like the Code of Hammurabi. It was also used for recording maps, compiling medical manuals, documenting religious stories beliefs, among other uses. Studies by assyriologists like Claus Wilcke and Dominique Charpin suggest that cuneiform literacy was not reserved solely for the elite but was common for average citizens. According to the Oxford Handbook of Cuneiform Culture, cuneiform script was used at a variety of literacy levels. Average citizens needed only a basic, functional knowledge of cuneiform script to write personal letters and business documents. More highly literate citizens put the script to more technical use listing medicines and diagnoses, and writing mathematical equations. Scholars held the highest literacy level of cuneiform and mostly focused on writing as a complex skill and an art form. I always ship books Media Mail in a padded mailer. This book is shipped FOR FREE via USPS INSURED media mail (“book rate”). All domestic shipments and most international shipments will include free USPS Delivery Confirmation (you might be able to update the status of your shipment on-line at the USPS Web Site) and free insurance coverage. A small percentage of international shipments may require an additional fee for tracking and/or delivery confirmation. If you are concerned about a little wear and tear to the book in transit, I would suggest a boxed shipment - it is an extra $1.00. Whether via padded mailer or box, we will give discounts for multiple purchases. International orders are welcome, but shipping costs are substantially higher. Most international orders cost an additional $9.99 to $37.99 for an insuredshipment in a heavily padded mailer, and typically includes some form of rudimentary tracking and/or delivery confirmation (though for some countries, this is only available at additional cost). However this book is quite heavy, and it is too large to fit into a flat rate mailer. Therefore the shipping costs are somewhat higher than what is otherwise ordinary. There is a discount program which can cut postage costs by 50% to 75% if you’re buying about half-a-dozen books or more (5 kilos+). Rates and available services vary a bit from country to country. You can email or message me for a shipping cost quote, but I assure you they are as reasonable as USPS rates allow, and if it turns out the rate is too high for your pocketbook, we will cancel the sale at your request. ADDITIONAL PURCHASES do receive a VERY LARGE discount, typically about $5 per book (for each additional book after the first) so as to reward you for the economies of combined shipping/insurance costs. Your purchase will ordinarily be shipped within 48 hours of payment. We package as well as anyone in the business, with lots of protective padding and containers. All of our shipments are sent via insured mail so as to comply with PayPal requirements. We do NOT recommend uninsured shipments, and expressly disclaim any responsibility for the loss of an uninsured shipment. Unfortunately the contents of parcels are easily “lost” or misdelivered by postal employees – even in the USA. That’s why all of our domestic shipments (and most international) shipments include a USPS delivery confirmation tag; or are trackable or traceable, and all shipments (international and domestic) are insured. We do offer U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail, Registered Mail, and Express Mail for both international and domestic shipments, as well United Parcel Service (UPS) and Federal Express (Fed-Ex). Please ask for a rate quotation. We will accept whatever payment method you are most comfortable with. If upon receipt of the item you are disappointed for any reason whatever, I offer a no questions asked return policy. Send it back, I will give you a complete refund of the purchase price (less our original shipping costs). Most of the items I offer come from the collection of a family friend who was active in the field of Archaeology for over forty years. However many of the items also come from purchases I make in Eastern Europe, India, and from the Levant (Eastern Mediterranean/Near East) from various institutions and dealers. Though I have always had an interest in archaeology, my own academic background was in sociology and cultural anthropology. After my retirement however, I found myself drawn to archaeology as well. Aside from my own personal collection, I have made extensive and frequent additions of my own via purchases on Ebay (of course), as well as many purchases from both dealers and institutions throughout the world - but especially in the Near East and in Eastern Europe. I spend over half of my year out of the United States, and have spent much of my life either in India or Eastern Europe. In fact much of what we generate on Yahoo, Amazon and Ebay goes to support The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, as well as some other worthy institutions in Europe connected with Anthropology and Archaeology. I acquire some small but interesting collections overseas from time-to-time, and have as well some duplicate items within my own collection which I occasionally decide to part with. Though I have a collection of ancient coins numbering in the tens of thousands, my primary interest is in ancient jewelry. My wife also is an active participant in the "business" of antique and ancient jewelry, and is from Russia. I would be happy to provide you with a certificate/guarantee of authenticity for any item you purchase from me. There is a $2 fee for mailing under separate cover. Whenever I am overseas I have made arrangements for purchases to be shipped out via domestic mail. If I am in the field, you may have to wait for a week or two for a COA to arrive via international air mail. But you can be sure your purchase will arrive properly packaged and promptly - even if I am absent. And when I am in a remote field location with merely a notebook computer, at times I am not able to access my email for a day or two, so be patient, I will always respond to every email. Please see our "ADDITIONAL TERMS OF SALE." Condition: NEW (albeit superficially blemished). See detailed condition description below., Provenance: Ancient Babylon Ur Mesopotamia, Material: Paper, Publisher: British Museum (2006), Format: Hardcover with dustjacket, Length: 352 pages, Size: 11 x 7¾ x 1¼ inches; 3¼ pounds

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