One of the earliest types of writing known is the cuneiform. Although Sumerian pictographs come from the late fourth millennium BC these are considered protowriting, since information conveyed by symbols without a linguistic structure. Cuneiform as such is fixed around 2800 BC.
The term cuneiform comes from the Latin “cuneus,” meaning wedge as it was written on a clay tablet with a sharpened cane wedge shaped.
The first records were purely pictographic writing. They represented the image of what they wanted to describe by graphic imitation and usually they were economic documents for counting inventory and other ordinary or administrative tasks.
As it was necessary the expression of ideas, signs evolved from a direct representation of objects, combinations of symbols, and later to the syllabic representation.
Other changes, such as alignment and writing from left to right were produced over time. Also the 90 ° rotation, possibly to facilitate writing. The symbols are changing from their pictographic origins to more abstract, and easily represented by indentations made with the wedge.
In the next picture of the University of Cantabria you can see examples of the evolution of some words.
The tablet that we present is, again, our reproduction of one of the objects in the collection of the British Museum.
It is an example of the early writing, one of the first records kept, in which more abstract symbols and pictograms are still mixed.
Its origin is probably southern Iraq, dating between 3100 and 3000 BC
In this case it was left record the daily rationing of beer.
The symbol of beer, a jar upright with a pointed base, appears three times in the tablet. The beer was the most popular drink in Mesopotamia and rationed among workers.
As for the number symbols, we see an archaic representation, and the interesting numbering system (for different types of objects, different systems) is also observed. I recommend you this article (spanish), if you are interested. This tablet has the distinction of having an oblique notch symbols dedicated to the numbering, which means that they are referring to malt grain.
Our replica is made of resin with wooden base and vertical support, to have it on display, as is engraved on both sides.
Available in our store
We’ve modeled a new version, thicker, like the original. Sold without base.
If you are interested in the old version, or adding a base to the new one, please contact us.
The cylinder seals appear in Mesopotamia (Uruk period, 4100-3300 BC).
They were small cylinders of stone, glass or other materials, often semi-precious stones, with a carved relief, which making them roll on a clay tablet left recording the motives, as well as record of the contents of some containers or seal documents.
In other cases represented daily, religious and economic scenes.
The impression could be extended indefinitely, so that the result was a frieze, which gave it a decorative look.
The prints were evolving from own drawings of each merchant, until a code that ended up evolving cuneiform writing.
Here we present a replica of a seal is preserved in the British Museum.
Pink Chalcedony cylinder seal.
Mesopotamia. Kassite Dynasty, between 1400 and 1300 BCE
The seated figure is the sun-god Shamash, sitting in front of a sun disk and below a cross, the two symbols.
The seven-line cuneiform inscription is a prayer to Shamash.
You can find more information on the website of the British Museum.
Our reproduction is made of resin and presented together with a clay tablet, so you can print it for the times you want.
You can purchase one from our store