World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Elamite cuneiform

Article Id: WHEBN0003187100
Reproduction Date:

Title: Elamite cuneiform  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Elamite language, Old Persian cuneiform, History of writing, List of writing systems, Cuneiform
Collection: Elamite Language
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Elamite cuneiform

Elamite Cuneiform
Type
Languages Elamite language
Time period
2200 BCE to 400 BCE
Parent systems
Sister systems
Old Persian Cuneiform

Elamite cuneiform was a logo-syllabic script used to write the Elamite language.

Contents

  • History and decipherment 1
  • Inventory 2
  • Syntax 3
  • Notes 4
  • References 5

History and decipherment

The Elamite language (c. 3000 BCE to 400 BCE) is the now-extinct language spoken by Elamites, who inhabited the regions of Khuzistān and Fārs in Southern Iran.[1] It has long been an enigma for scholars due to the scarcity of resources for its research and the irregularities found in the language.[1] It seems to have no relation to its neighboring Semitic and Indo-European languages.[2] Scholars fiercely argue over several hypotheses about its origin, but have no definite theory.

Elamite cuneiform comes in two variants, the first, derived from Akkadian, was used during the 3rd to 2nd millennia BCE, and a simplified form used during the 1st millennium BCE.[1] The main difference between the two variants is the reduction of glyphs used in the simplified version.[3] At any one time, there would only be around 130 cuneiform signs in use. Throughout the script’s history, only 206 different signs were used in total.

The earliest known Elamite cuneiform text is a treaty between Akkaddians and the Elamites that dates back to 2200 BCE.[1] However, some believe it might have been in use since 2500 BCE [3] The tablets are poorly preserved so only limited parts can be read but it is understood that the text is a treaty between the Akkad king Nāramsîn and Elamite ruler Hita. Frequent references like "Nāramsîn's friend is my friend, Nāramsîn's enemy is my enemy" indicate so.[1]

The most famous and the ones that ultimately lead to its decipherment are the Elamite scriptures found in the trilingual inscriptions of monuments commissioned by the Babylonian cuneiform, was deciphered shortly after the Old Persian text. Because Elamite is unlike its neighboring Semitic languages, the script's decipherment was delayed until the 1840s. Even today, lack of sources and comparative materials hinder further research of Elamite.[1]

Inventory

Elamite radically reduced the number of cuneiform glyphs. From the entire history of the script, only 206 glyphs are used; at any one time, the number was fairly constant at about 130. In the earliest tablets the script is almost entirely syllabic, with almost all common Old Akkadian syllabic glyphs with CV and VC values being adopted. Over time the number of syllabic glyphs is reduced while the number of logograms increases. About 40 CVC glyphs are also occasionally used, but they appear to have been used for the consonants and ignored the vocalic value. Several determinatives are also used.[3]

Elamite CV and VC syllabic glyphs
Monumental Achaemenid inscriptions, 5th century BCE
Ca Ce Ci Cu aC eC iC uC
p
b
𒉺 pa
𒁀 ba

𒁁 be
𒉿 pe ~ pi 𒁍 pu 𒀊 ap 𒅁 (𒌈) ip 𒌒 up
k
g
qa/ka4 ka 𒆠 ke ~ ki
𒄀 ge ~ gi
𒆪 ku 𒀝 ak 𒅅 ik 𒊌 uk
t
d

𒆪 da
𒋼 te 𒋾 ti 𒌅 (tu4) tu
𒁺 du
𒀜 at   𒌓 ut
š 𒐼 (𒊮) ša 𒊺 še 𒅆 ši 𒋗 šu 𒀾 𒆜 iš ~ uš
s
z (č)
𒊓 sa
𒍝 ca
𒋛 se ~ si
𒍢 ce ~ ci
𒋢 su 𒊍 as/ac 𒄑 is/ic
y ya
l 𒆷 la 𒇷 le ~ li 𒇻 lu ul
m 𒈠 ma 𒈨 me 𒈪 mi 𒈬 mu 𒄠 am 𒌝 um
n 𒈾 na 𒉌 ne ~ ni 𒉡 nu 𒀭 an 𒂗 en 𒅔 in 𒌦 un
r 𒊏 ra 𒊑 re ~ ri 𒊒 ru 𒅕 ir 𒌨 ur
h
0
𒄩 ha
𒀀 a

𒂊 e
𒄭 hi
𒄿 i
𒄷 hu
𒌋, 𒌑 u
𒄴 ah

Glyphs in parentheses in the table are not common.

The script distinguished the four vowels of Akkadian and 15 consonants, /p/, /b/,/k/,/g/,/t/,/d/,/š/,/s/,/z/,/y/,/l/,/m/,/n/,/r/, and /h/. The Akkadian voiced pairs /p, b/, /k, g/, and /t, d/ may not have been distinct in Elamite. The series transcribed z may have been an affricate such as /č/ or /c/ (ts). /hV/ was not always distinguished from simple vowels, suggesting that /h/ may have been dropping out of the language. The VC glyphs are often used for a syllable coda without any regard to the value of V, suggesting that they were in fact alphabetic C signs.[3]

Much of the conflation of Ce and Ci, and also eC and iC, is inherited from Akkadian (pe-pi-bi, ke-ki, ge-gi, se-si, ze-zi, le-li, re-ri, and ḫe-ḫi—that is, only ne-ni are distinguished in Akkadian but not Elamite; of the VC syllables, only eš-iš-uš). In addition, 𒄴 is aḫ, eḫ, iḫ, uḫ in Akkadian, and so effectively is a coda consonant even there.

Syntax

Elamite cuneiform is similar to that of Akkadian cuneiform except for a few unusual features. For example, the primary function of CVC glyphs was to indicate the two consonants rather than the syllable.[3] Thus certain words used the glyphs for “tir” and “tar” interchangeably and the vowel was ignored. Occasionally, the vowel is acknowledged such that “tir” will be used in the context “ti-rV”. Thus “ti-ra” might be written with the glyphs for “tir” and “a” or “ti” and “ra”.

Elamite cuneiform allows for a lot of freedom when constructing syllables. For example, CVC syllables are sometimes represented by using a CV and VC glyph. The vowel in the second glyph is irrelevant so “sa-ad” and “sa-ud” are equivalent. Additionally, “VCV” syllables are represented by combining “V” and “CV” glyphs or “VC” and “CV” glyphs that have a common consonant. Thus “ap-pa” and “a-pa” are equivalent.

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e f Khačikjan (1998)
  2. ^ Starostin, George (2002)
  3. ^ a b c d e Peter Daniels and William Bright (1996)
  4. ^ Reiner, Erica (2005)

References

  • Reiner, Erica. 2005. "Elamite" International Encyclopedia of Linguistics. Ed. William J. Frawley. Oxford University Press. Oxford Reference Online: (accessed 5 November 2008)
  • Khačikjan, Margaret. 1998. "The Elamite Language". Documenta Asiana IV, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche Istituto per gli Studi Micenei ed Egeo-Anatolici. ISBN 88-87345-01-5
  • Peter T. Daniels and William Bright. 1996. “The World’s Writing Systems”. Published by Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-507993-0
  • George S. Starostin. On the Genetic Affiliation of the Elamite Language. // Originally in: Mother Tongue, v. VII. 2002, pp. 147–170
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.